Like hundreds of millions of others, Tom Branon, patriarch of the Branon Family Maple Orchards,…
The Right Price
On a recent muggy Vermont summer night, we crawled our tired bodies out of the sugar woods and dusted off an old economics textbook from college. We wanted to brush up on the principles of pricing, a subject we’ve thought long and hard about recently as we examined the best prices of Vermont maple syrup.
We work hard to keep our price of pure, organic Vermont maple syrup at a level that allows our business to run but doesn’t put inflict unnecessary pain on a customer’s bottom line. It’s a balancing act, for sure, but giving consumers the best price on maple syrup is something we take very seriously. And just to get it out here early in this blog post, as of today the retail price of our pure, organic Vermont maple syrup is $48 a gallon. That’s regardless of the syrup’s grade. And that, we can assure you, is a bargain.
Comparing Syrup Prices
Here’s how we’re so sure we can offer some of the best prices on Vermont maple syrup.
First, we do our research. In recent years, we’ve kept our own spreadsheet of about two dozen maple producers and sellers throughout Vermont. We don’t think of them as the “competition” per se, but like us, they do sell syrup online and ship around the world.
Here’s what we found for 2023 pricing – and to be fair, this price survey is far from exhaustive. We know we’ve left several online syrup sellers off this list. We aimed for a mix of sugar makers from different regions of Vermont, some who (like us) also have a retail location and some larger resellers who purchase wholesale syrup from other sugar makers and sell that syrup through their retail channels.
Some of the results of our 2023 Vermont maple syrup retail price survey include:
- The average price of Vermont maple syrup is $57 a gallon.
- The average price of Vermont maple syrup last year was $55 a gallon. A 3.64 percent increase.
- The highest price for a gallon of syrup is $89.95. We won’t name the retailer here.
- Our half-gallon price of $26 is the lowest we found in the state.
- Half-gallon prices in the state range from $26 to a whopping $53.
- With some narrow and qualified exceptions, every online retailer charges for shipping.
Although a few retailers charge different prices for various grades of syrup (we don’t) these syrup prices compare regular maple syrup – no added flavors or specialty syrups. We need to add a footnote here: Our survey only compares retail syrup prices for the average consumer. Branon Maple Family Orchards has a customized wholesale program for small businesses like restaurants and bakeries that gives us the ability to be flexible with wholesale pricing and bulk shipping options. Please email us for details on our wholesale purchasing program that ensures your business gets the lowest price on maple syrup possible.
Just for giggles and snorts, we typed “What are the best prices on a gallon of Vermont maple syrup?” into Bard, Google’s version of ChatGPT (as an aside: ChaptGPT said it couldn’t answer the prompt. Which is a headscratcher, but hey, it appears artificial intelligence can be downright unintelligent).
The best price Bard found for Vermont maple syrup was $58 from a Chittenden County sugar maker (available on Amazon) and $59.99 available at a premium supermarket (which happens to be owned by Amazon). Those prices don’t include shipping.
That falls in line with our research, too. It also makes clear that we need to talk to Bard about how it missed Branon Family Orchards and our $48-a-gallon price.
What’s The Difference?
Unlike, say, wine, the price of maple syrup doesn’t indicate a totally different flavor profile. Generally, the taste of Vermont maple syrup stays consistent from producer to producer. Grades of syrup, of course, have different levels of maple flavor, but that, too, remains generally consistent from producer to producer. We will admit there can be slight differences in taste, but for the most part, maple syrup brands taste exceedingly similar.
To understand why one gallon of Vermont maple syrup is $48 while another gallon – one that tastes almost identical – is $75, let’s go back to that dusty old Econ 101 textbook. For a quick review, these are the three primary inputs that affect the price of goods.
- The customer’s ability and willingness to pay the price
- Price levels of competing products
- The company’s cost structure
We’re not going to dive deeply into the variables other Vermont maple sugar makers figure into their price inputs. We’re going to explain a bit of our thinking behind each of them and how that allows us to price our syrup like we do.
We’ve been making Vermont maple syrup for six generations and can trace our Vermont roots back even longer and deeper than that. Branon Family Maple Orchards maintains membership in a wide array of maple industry and farming groups. We’re active in those groups too. We live beside and talk with our customers every day. In short, we know pretty well what our customers consider to be a fair price for maple syrup.
The intent of our informal survey of maple syrup prices is not so that we can simply raise the price of our product. While we like to monitor market rates of syrup, we do have a goal of keeping our syrup to be among the most affordable on the market. That said, we also keep an eye on products like maple sugar or maple spices to make sure our prices are reasonable. We never want to be the most expensive maple syrup on the market. Could we charge more? Sure. We just wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it.
Our Cost Structure
This factor has the most impact on maple syrup prices, regardless of which sugar maker we’re talking about. The cost of fuel, labor, insurance, taxes, packaging, and equipment all figure into the price of maple syrup. Those prices are volatile and change sometimes daily. Like others in the maple industry, we’ve had to adjust the retail price of our syrup as the cost of these variables has skyrocketed in recent years.
Land, too, is yet another consideration. We own our sugarbushes, but some other maple producers either rent land or pay another landowner a “tap fee” – basically a per tap rental for the right to collect sap from those trees.
Another consideration? Like most commodities, the worldwide price of maple syrup is dictated by supply, which is highly weather-dependent. Unlike other commodities, the price of Maple syrup depends on the Quebec government. Quebec produces some 75 percent of the world’s maple syrup, oversees a maple reserve that stabilizes supply, and maintains a strict quota system on taps across the province that helps ensure the supply and demand of maple syrup continue to live in harmony.
The Bottom Line
Branon Family Maple Orchards has no desire to make the most expensive maple syrup on the market. Quite the opposite. Our goal simply is to offer the highest quality organic Vermont maple syrup at the best price we can.
We want to make a living, sure, but we treat our customers fairly in doing so. We won’t waiver from that.
Like we said earlier, our price of $48 a gallon is among the best you’ll find anywhere. We’re pretty happy with that price. We hope you are too.
About Branon Family Maple Orchards
With headquarters in Fairfield, VT, Branon Family Maple Orchards is a multi-generational agricultural family-owned business specializing in Pure Vermont Maple Syrup and maple products. Powered by renewable solar and made in an Audubon approved bird-friendly habitat, Branon Family Maple Orchards produces single-sourced organic maple syrup. They also carry a variety of maple sauces, rubs, jellies, and other maple specialty products in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner. For more information visit branonmaple.com