Chapter 7; Organic Maple Syrup

The Story Behind the Product; Chapter 7; Organic Maple Syrup

by Gary Cohen

We started selling Natural Value Organic maple syrup in the late 90s. One of the first products I represented in my natural food brokerage days was maple syrup when I started brokering back in 1989.

Back then, there were three grades of maple syrup.


Grade A Light Amber

Grade B Dark Amber

Grade C Manufacturer’s Grade


It takes 30 gallons of maple sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. And as with any sugar product, the longer you cook it, the darker it gets. The most potent sap that took the shortest amount of time to cook down was Grade A. The less potent sap that took longer to cook down had a deeper, richer taste…and that was Manufacturer’s grade or Grade C. It was also cheaper due to its abundance…and so became a staple of natural food stores selling it in bulk. Originally it was sold in metal tins, but it was later packed in a “bag in a box.”

I could relate to Grade C. That seemed to be the average grade I got in school. In the interest of full disclosure…it was either C- or C+. Not a B-.


Then the industry discovered that Grade C wasn’t a good idea to stimulate sales. All Eggs were seemingly Grade A. Chicken was Grade A. Syrup was Grade C?

So, the maple Industry eliminated Grade C. (Too bad the High School Industry didn’t eliminate Grade C in the 60s)

Grade A remained Grade A, Grade B remained Grade B, but Grade C was now called Grade B Dark Amber.

It was still cheaper, and in bulk, it still sold the best. A lot of consumers liked it too because it had that “dark, heavy, molasses-y type flavor.”

Then (Our old ‘Grade B’ Label 32oz jug)

Our Current ‘Grade A, Dark Color, Robust Taste’ Label, 32oz jug

Then a few years ago, grade creep struck again.


Led by the State of Vermont, the industry decided that all maple syrup should be grade

A. No more “Grade A Light, Medium and Dark.” Now the terms were “Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste,” etc.

Wow. Too bad the high school/education industry didn’t adopt THIS grading plan. Then I would have been an “A” student!!

And that is how the maple syrup industry has “upgraded” their labeling and grading over the past 25 years.


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