Ohio Maple Days 2022 did not disappoint. The food was fantastic, the vendor room crowded, and the presenters shared a wealth of knowledge of expertise across a wide range of subjects. To wrap up the day, we had a trio of talks approach the goal of increasing profitability from 3 different perspectives. A big thanks to Mike Rechlin, Les Ober, Mark Cannella, Carri Jagger, and Rachel Coy for finishing off our Maple Days program on a high note! Be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s conference December 8th and 9th!
The first talk, led by Carri and Rachel, explored how to increase profitability by focusing on maple products. What is the breakdown of selling maple syrup in smaller and smaller volume units? What value-added products have the highest margins? Are there alternative maple products that you have never even heard of before? Detailed breakdown after detailed breakdown, producers could see their input costs and “shrink” as well as returns across various value-added maple products, from maple cream and maple candy to sugar and cotton candy. Beyond the typical suite of value-added products, the talk also provided a quick overview of just how creative one can get using maple as an ingredient in products ranging from lip balm and hand lotion to marinades and sap seltzers. The over-arching takeaway: it might be more work to create value-added maple products or sell your syrup in smaller units, but the reward is likely increased profits.
Mark Cannella took the second perspective in a totally different direction. If your personal operation is stuck at a ceiling of 500 taps and you cannot expand staying on your own property, consider leasing maple taps or purchasing maple sap to increase your overall profitability. The basis of Mark’s presentation can be explored more fully at Maple Manager in the form of sap pricing calculators, leasing guides, and lots more. Exploring how sap leveraged from elsewhere can achieve economy of scale to justify a big equipment purchase or simply grow the volume of syrup for your market, leasing must be considered. Another provocative idea Mark raised was that of multi-owner partnerships. In other words, what would it look like for you to merge aspects of your maple operation with other local maple producers. In the woods or in the sugarhouse, the possibilities for crafting a creative business structure is limited only by the imagination. Staying true to best practices, legal agreements, and thorough cost-benefit analyses BEFORE diving in is always the key!
Finally, Mike and Les brought it all back home and put the emphasis where it ultimately must begin – maximizing the efficiency and profitability of the woods you manage. After all, it is a common axiom that the sugarhouse is the place you spend your money, but the woods is where you make it! Their talk leveraged Future Generations University’s work via an ACER grant dedicated to production and profitability. To model best practices and engage producers at the unit of an individual and unique operation, researchers have been engaged in consultations that seek to identify room for improvement, equip producers to improve and enhance their operation, and then follow up to track progress. While the talk could easily be the outline for an entire textbook or a week-long workshop on maple sugaring, it is sometimes good to step back from the details and look down from the bird’s eye view for some much needed perspective.
Regardless of a producer’s scale or experience, there was something for everybody in the 3-part profitability module to close our 2022 Ohio Maple Days event. We look forward to seeing you next December 8th and 9th but hope to cross paths with you before then!