Jakeman's Maple Products
In Beachville, Ontario, Jakeman’s Maple Products is celebrating more than 140 years of maple sugaring, bringing a 100 percent Canadian-made, all-natural product and family favorite to thousands of customers every year. Although Jakeman’s Maple Products and Jakeman’s Pure Maple Syrup officially formed in 1965, the Jakeman family has been maple sugaring for five generations since settling in Ontario in 1876.
The family-run company sells everything maple, including: pure maple syrup, granulated maple sugar, maple ice wine, maple sugar and spread, hard maple candies, taffy, maple butter popcorn, nuts, coffee and maple tea, maple cream, cookies and much more. Jakeman’s Maple Products has an on-site maple sugar store, as well as an e-store and the company sells to wholesalers, grocery retailers and exports products worldwide. The company packages up any number of these items in assorted gift baskets, ready to be shipped to maple lovers worldwide.
Tapping into five generations of family sugaring
“We originally learned to make maple syrup from natives in the region and we’ve been doing it ever since,” says Chad Jakeman, vice president and export sales manager of Auvergne Farms Limited, dba Jakeman’s Maple Products. It was Chad’s great-great-grandparents, George and Betsy-Anne Jakeman who started sugaring near Woodstock, Ontario. They learned how to collect sap from maple trees in early spring and boil it down in an iron kettle over an open wood fire pit, until it was bubbly and deep golden brown.
In 1919, Chad’s great-grandfather, Ernest Jakeman purchased the first evaporator and set it in a makeshift sugar house with no roof. He collected 500 buckets of syrup the first year. In 1951, George purchased a larger evaporator and a new roof was put on the sugary shanty. In 1970, the family rebuilt the sugar house after a fire, doubling it in size. Several years later the operation moved to the Sweaburg General Store, which now functions as Jakeman’s Maple Products gift shop, museum and pancake house.
“We have a not-for-profit pancake house,” says Chad. “We invite the local 4-H Club to come in and they do a pancake breakfast to raise money. All the proceeds go to 4-H. It’s grown to be quite a bit bigger than we expected; sometimes we’re serving 500 to 600 people at breakfast in a weekend. We also do horse buggy rides and tours around our farm every weekend in March, which is Maple Sugar Month.”
Chad’s father Bob Jakeman, now president and CEO, and George were the first to turn the business from roadside stand to a more retail-driven company. “My father and grandfather originally sold equipment and then branched out into selling maple syrup in duty-free gift and tourist shops in Ontario,” says Chad. “Now that myself and my brother, Devin Jakeman, who’s our production manager and treasurer, are involved, we’re trying to move into even more retail chains in grocery stores and supermarkets. We’re also actively seeking new export markets in the U.S. and beyond.” Bob is still actively involved in the business, as well as Chad’s mother, Mary Jakeman, sales manager of Jakeman’s Maple Products. “Between the family members and our employees we have about 14 people on staff,” says Chad.
Today, the maple sugaring tradition still runs strong, but the operation’s main focus is on blending and purifying syrup from surrounding farms. Jakeman’s proudly uses 95 percent Ontario-made maple syrup and the blending process has always been done by a member of the family. Today Jakeman’s is the largest packer of maple syrup in the province.
Packaged for sweet success
The latest phase of expansion for the business and the Jakeman family is a brand-new plant dedicated to producing granulated maple sugar, a relatively new and unique item in the industry. “We’ve doubled in size in the last few years and with this new plant, we’ll be able to produce 900kg of granulated maple sugar per day, which has the texture of conventional white sugar, but it’s 100 percent all natural,” explains Chad. “The sugar will be individually packaged in small single-serve packets.”
This expansion has been in the works for several years and Chad says a lot of time, energy and planning has gone into the project. “There are only a handful of other bulk maple sugar producers in Canada and the U.S. who have the ability to dehydrate the sugar like we will,” says Chad. “The result is the same texture as regular sugar, but this is a much healthier sugar substitute over highly processed, refined white sugars.”
Chad says he sees huge potential for growth in this project as more consumers seek alternatives and natural sweeteners. In fact, Chad says pure maple sugar has more antioxidants per serving than honey, more calcium than milk and more potassium than bananas, among a trove of other health benefits as a true super food. “Our goal is to deliver a real substitute with the same texture and competitive price as other sugar packets out there,” he says.
Currently the plant is still under wraps, but Jakeman’s Maple Products hopes to have it up and running by April 2016. “We’re still a year or so out from full production because this is totally new and unique — there will be some kinks to work out I’m sure,” adds Chad.
With a new twist on a favorite and an all-natural alternative to traditional sweeteners, the company has positioned itself to continue to lead the maple market across North America. 140 years and five generations later, Jakeman’s Maple Products is furthering its passion, sharing pure, 100 percent Canadian-made maple syrup and bottling, packaging and shipping it to maple lovers far and wide.