What Is The International Maple Syrup Institute and Why Did They Propose Maple Syrup Grade Changes?

If you’ve ever been confused about the difference in maple grades, you’re not alone. However, new maple syrup grades that recently gained approval from the Vermont legislature are intended to make these distinctions clearer. The International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) maple syrup grade changes are expected at the consumer level in January 2014. This new international grading system will help lessen consumer confusion, allow Vermont maple syrup to compete globally, provide continuity for export markets, and make it easier for you to buy pure maple products, especially as an increasing percentage will be sold out-of-state.

The IMSI got involved in the development of an international standard for pure maple syrup, including its grades and nomenclature, in 2002. This is a proposed solution to the current process (established in January 1980) that relies on different maple syrup grading standards (all based on density and translucence) used in the Canadian, United States, and Vermont markets. Because different markets use different systems to grade pure maple syrup, consumers are often confused about grades and their differences. The proposed unified grading system is intended to clear up any confusion.

Established in 1975, the IMSI is also responsible for equipment-manufacturing standards put into place in the 1990s. It helped ensure that new maple processing equipment installations remained contaminant-free. Considered a reference for government regulators and industry representatives, it provides a baseline for quality standards within the maple syrup production and packing process. The IMSI, formed by key maple syrup industry stakeholders (i.e. maple syrup producers, maple packers, maple equipment manufacturers), remains focused on collaborative strategies and effective communication to build and protect the success and longevity of the maple syrup market.

Discovering (And Enjoying) the New Maple Grades

While grading maple syrup will undergo some changes, the delicious pure maple flavors will stay the same. The new maple syrup grades (also seen in this Grade Map are clearly explained below, do not apply to fake or imitation table syrups (like Log Cabin® and Aunt Jemima®). We’ve also included comparisons to the original grades, so you’ll be sure to find your new favorite flavor easily when they are available in early 2014.

1. Grade A (with four classifications):

Sold in retail markets, this high quality pure maple syrup grade is intended for human consumption. Within this grade, there are four specific designations and separate flavor profiles:

  • Golden Color and Delicate Taste: This delicate and mild-tasting syrup is recognizable with its pronounced golden color. (It is comparable to the Grade A Light Amber grade in the old grading system.)
  • Amber Color and Rich Taste: This rich and full-bodied syrup has a light, medium, or dark amber color. (It is comparable to the Grade A Medium Amber or Grade A Dark Amber grades in the old grading system.)
  • Dark Color and Robust Taste: This robust dark-colored syrup is stronger than the lighter color classes with its substantial taste. (It is comparable to Grade A Dark Amber, Grade A Extra Dark, or Grade B in the old grading system.)
  • Very Dark and Strong Taste: Ideal for cooking purposes (and some table use), this has the strongest maple syrup flavor within all the grades.

2. Processing Grade:

This second grade of maple syrup is not permitted for retail sale, but is suitable as an ingredient in food products. It meets food quality/safety guidelines and all other maple regulations, however, it does not meet Grade A requirements.

New Maple Grades are Ideal for Pancakes and Recipes

As a perfect addition atop pancakes or used in your favorite recipes, organic maple syrup is a healthy, delicious, and versatile sweetener. Check back here at the Maple Blog for the latest information about the maple syrup grade changes. With seven generations of experience under our belts, you will find superior flavor and quality in every bottle of Coombs Family Farms 100% pure organic maple syrup.


Log Cabin is a registered trademark of Pinnacle Foods Group LLC

Aunt Jemima is a registered trademark of The Quaker Oats Company