COST & POTENTIAL REVENUE ESTIMATES
For Bigleaf Maple Sap Tapping & Processing for Syrup & Lesser Concentrates
PURPOSE: To provide landowners with a commercial interest in bigleaf maple sap procurement and/or processing of bigleaf maple syrup (66 brix) or other foods made from concentrated sap (less than 66 brix) estimates for costs and potential revenue at different commercial scales. Commercial bigleaf tapping is an emerging industry in the Pacific Northwest without many data sources yet to broadly support these rough estimates. These estimates do not factor in potential costs like food safety compliance, packaging, and fees. These estimates do not factor in other bigleaf products and services that could add additional value (e.g., bigleaf maple flowers, firewood, saplings for the ecological restoration projects).
ASSUMPTIONS: That the current retail market value for bigleaf maple syrup averages $200-300 a gallon. This figure is based on averaging prices of small retail sales of 4oz, 8oz, and 12oz bottles purchased from several small producers in winter 2021 and 2022. Keep in mind that nobody is actually offering gallons for sale in their marketing at this time, but U.S. commercial maple syrup producers typically estimate syrup production in gallons. Additionally, few commercial producers exist and current retail prices likely reflect the novelty of bigleaf syrup and high consumer demand. As bigleaf syrup becomes more available, competition will likely decrease retail prices. However, bigleaf syrup will likely remain higher priced than northeast sugar maple syrup (commonly available in grocery stores) which has a wide range of pricing from $30 per retail gallon for Canadian mass produced Grade A Dark to $100 a gallon for small-batch organic syrup from Vermont.
WHAT IS A SMALL BUSINESS? The U.S. Small Business Administration classifies businesses with 1,500 or fewer employees and annual revenue of $38.5 million. That scale is not helpful for entry level bigleaf maple sap commercial activity so for the purposes of this document we devised the following general classification:
Small Micro: Total annual production less than 2 gallons of syrup and $500 in net revenue. Home level processing to trade or sell to friends and/or at a roadside stand;
Medium Micro: Total annual production 3-25 gallons of syrup and $500 to $7,500 in net revenue. Processing done at home or a commercial kitchen to sell at farmers markets, holiday bazaars, and local grocery and gift stores;
Large Micro: Total annual production 26-150 gallons of syrup and $7,500 to $45,000 in net revenue. Processing done in a commercial kitchen or other food processing facility to sell on the Internet, local regional grocery and gift stores.
A: Tap tree with a bucket hanging on the tap/spile or a tube from the spile to a bucket on the ground;
B: Connect tree taps/spiles using vacuum tubing running downhill (gravity vacuum) to a tank;
C: Connect tree taps/spiles to vacuum tubing on downhill slopes or flat ground pulled to a tank by a vacuum pump.
EQUIPMENT & SUPPLY COST EXAMPLES:
Reverse Osmosis machines. $1,500 and $5,000 for small-commercial.
Vacuum tubing. Prices do not include shipping. 500’ of 3/16”=$50, 500’ of 5/16”=$60, 500’ of 3/4"=$150.
Tubing connectors & fittings: spiles=$.40ea., Tees=$.25ea., Re-use possible between seasons if cleaned well.
Small commercial wood or gas evaporator: $1,500 to $10,000 (electric is less common and more expensive).
Collection tanks: 50 gallon NSF food grade polyethylene w/wide mouth for cleaning=$125; 100 gallon tank for the reserve osmosis=$250ea. (2 at least).
Vacuum pump: Bosworth Guzzler GE0401 up to 400 taps (using 5/16” tubing) = $800
Transfer pump: Sureflow 4008 up to 50 taps if on a downward slope (using 5/16” tubing) = $150
Filtering: For small amounts a gravity fed paper or cloth filter system $500. For large amounts a filter press. $2,500
SAP TO SYRUP RATIO:
Approximately 80 gallons of bigleaf sap = 1 gallon syrup depending on brix level. Based on limited data, 1.5% brix is about average for bigleaf. By comparison, sugar maple averages 2.5% brix, meaning less sap is required to make a gallon of syrup. The bigleaf 1.5% average is a rough estimation based on limited data and brix level can vary between trees in a run, and within a tree at different points of a season. Additional sap loss occurs in processing such as syrup sticking to equipment.
ASSUMED COMMON CONDITIONS FOR ALL SCENARIOS:
Average winter = 4 tapping periods in a season. Freezing days & nights followed by freezing nights & above freezing days;
Tree taps checked daily and retapped as needed
Sap is evaporated immediately after collection or concentrated with an R.O., stored in a freezer, and evaporated later; 4) Average brix is 1.5%.
NOTE: Figures in the following tables will be adjusted to reflect incoming data. If you download a printable version check that you have the most current version (indicted by date).
Limitations. Data for this brief was collected from two commercial producers of northwest bigleaf maple syrup and industry equipment suppliers. The results and analysis are exploratory and preliminary and should not be considered peer-reviewed research.
Written by: Eric T. Jones, FES COF OSU. version 08.01.2021