The Maple Guild innovates speedy way to process pure maple syrup

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

As demand for maple rises, The Maple Guild invents speedy process

Related tags Maple syrup

Vermont-based The Maple Guild developed a processing method that can make 55 gallons of maple syrup in less than three minutes.

The process is called ‘steam-crafting,’ The Maple Guild​ VP of marketing and sales John Campbell told FoodNavigator-USA.

Most producers use direct-heat, an hour-long process to turn sap into syrup, Campbell explained. “That creates some hot spots [and a] darker grade, whereas our steam-crafting process uses an indirect heat, and based on the size of the evaporators, the surface area, and the process itself, we can actually turn around and make a 55-gallon drum of syrup in less than three minutes,” ​he added.

With this procedure, The Maple Guild wants to bring lighter-colored maple syrup (which the company argues is the closest thing to maple sap) and branch out of the smaller, independent natural grocers its currently distributed at in New England and Manhattan and become a national brand.

“We want to scale it and really become a national brand. There aren’t a lot of name brand maple syrups out there,” ​Campbell added. “If you ask someone to name one, unfortunately they’d probably name you a corn syrup and not pure maple syrup.”

Let’s get technical

“The technique is exclusive to us, we invented it,” ​said Mike Argyelan, CEO of The Maple Guild. The equipment was made in Canada proprietorially, shipped to the 25,000-acre property in Island Pond, VT, to a brick structure that used to be a furniture factory.

“Essentially, we pre-boil syrup before it hits the main evaporators, and we do that with steam that was generated at the bottom evaporator—and we shoot air in to the top evaporator which makes the concentrate float in the steam,” ​he said.

According to Campbell and Argyelan, this technique is less energy-intensive than the common processing procedure in the industry, part of the narrative that the company pitches to the market (in addition to a certification by the Rainforest Alliance).

Growing demand for premium maple syrup

Though ‘table syrups’ still prevail in the market, the clean label movement at the consumer level has helped boost business for pure, single-estate and more premium maple syrups, garnering patronage for north-eastern companies like The Maple Guild or Hudson Valley-based Crown Maple​.

“It’s been kind of a stale category,” ​Campbell said. “We can do it differently and we can do it right, starting with the vertical integration and really controlling everything from tree to table.” ​This yields a superior syrup, Campbell argued, and the price-point is a higher one, ranging from $9.99 to $18.99 a bottle.

But syrup isn’t the only finished product it produces—it also has a line of creams, spreads, and candy, and recently announced beverages (though still under wraps) that will retail for around $3.49 a bottle. The company will be shipping its first orders to UNFI’s eight warehouses on the East Coast.

“If we had come in as a me-too product, doing the same thing everybody else does, I think we would’ve been looked at as just another maple guy,” ​Campbell said. “But we came with the story of sustainability, and upscale packaging, and really show the power of premium maple at an accessible cost.”

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It's all Grade A

Posted by David Stone,

It gradually dawned on the maple syrup biz that they were shooting themselves in the foot by having a Grade B, as many consumers assumed it was inferior in some way to Grade A. So (tah-dah!), just make Grade B go away and label it all Grade A but with COLOR/FLAVOR gradations, and voila--problem solved. So that's what they did. Brilliant. Here they are (you and I want the last one):

Grade A: Golden Color with Delicate Taste
Grade A: Amber Color with Rich Taste
Grade A: Dark Color with Robust Taste
Grade A: Very Dark Color with Strong Taste

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"Grade B" is better

Posted by David Christensen,

I agree it's "Grade B" (or lower) for an intense maple flavor.BTW why is it all "Grade A" now?

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Who *wants* maple sap?

Posted by David Stone,

Not me. I prefer darker maple syrup (what used to be called "Grade B"). A little caramelization is a good thing. Light = [yawn] No doubt the paleos liked theirs dark too, and cooked food often does taste better than raw, no? Best of luck, though, with marketing the "closest thing to maple sap" concept.

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