Supplier to hundreds of manufacturers, Bascom Family Farms has seen an unmistakable trend in food manufacturing lately: clean labels. This consumer-driven trend is forcing manufacturers to reformulate their recipes in order to maintain their bottom lines - and maple might just be the answer.
A 2015 study conducted by spice company Kalsec confirmed the rising trend of consumer awareness of 'clean ingredients'. The study found that:
These results have been influencing producers for some time, with manufacturers scrambling to find ingredients that will allow them to provide a 'clean' ingredient list - and this includes industry giants. M&M/Mars, Kellogg's and General Mills have all pledged to reduce their ingredient lists and provide clean, easy-to-understand labels. For many, maple is fast becoming a preferred clean ingredient for many products, including yogurt, energy and granola bars, baked goods, ham glazes, maple bacon and sausages, beverages, beer and spirits.
Bascom Family Farms, which has been operated by the same family for seven generations, has become the largest independent US supplier of maple syrup and maple sugar. With a year-round supply of maple, in sizes ranging from 20kg pails to 1,000L totes in all grades, it has become the preferred supplier of multinationals and start-ups alike.
Organic maple has seen annual double-digit growth for more than a decade, supported by the expansion of maple farms throughout the US and Canada. US production has more than doubled in the past eight years, and is predicted to double again in the next eight.
According to research from Morgan Stanley, the millennial generation is twice as likely as others to "check product packaging to ensure sustainability", or purchase from a brand because of its sustainability credentials. For this reason, maple is ideal for the modern marketplace.
Maple is one of the most sustainably produced agricultural products available, and one that can happily coexist with other forest uses such as recreation and commercial logging. Some maple orchards have been in continuous production for over two hundred years; with time horizons like that, sustainability is of paramount concern to maple growers. Generations of proper forest management practices ensure a viable crop year after year. Bascom Family's maple products are all also certified non-GMO.
Maple has benefits beyond its sweetening and flavouring properties, too, such as the 54 antioxidants found in it and its anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers at McGill University in Toronto discovered that phenolic compounds found in maple syrup produced a strong antimicrobial effect when combined with antibiotics, meaning that maple syrup may help decrease the dosage and duration of antibiotic use. A newly published study from the University of Rhode Island, in collaboration with researchers at Texas State University, has also discovered that maple has neuroprotective effects that could protect the brain from Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.
In short, maple syrup has many health benefits, especially compared with other sweeteners, and its flavour profile and growing supply also make it the perfect sweetener for food manufacturers interested in a clean label. The fact that it is a sustainably harvested product that supports small family farms just sweetens the deal.