By Tim Devaney - 05/16/14 06:23 PM EDT
Dark maple syrup that has traditionally been considered too rich for the average consumer's taste could be sold in retail stores for the first time under new rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The USDA is considering new maple syrup labeling requirements that would relax the restrictions on the darkest blends of syrup and make room for it on stores' shelves across the country.
Previously, maple syrup producers were only allowed to sell lighter grades of syrup to consumers, which has a milder flavor and is often used on pancakes, waffles, and French toast. But darker grades of maple syrup are becoming more popular with certain consumers as of late, industry officials say.
This comes as the USDA considers a new universal maple syrup standard from the International Maple Syrup Institute, which the agency says will also help U.S. producers export syrup to sell internationally.
"This will better reflect the needs of consumers and help establish new international markets or expand existing ones," a USDA spokesperson said.
Maple is syrup is judged by its color. But there is little consensus from maple syrup producers in different states and countries as to what designates a light syrup compared to a darker syrup. So the International Maple Syrup Institute has suggested new universal standards for producers all around the world.
The state of Vermont, which is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S., has already adopted the rules.
Now, the USDA is considering such a move. The public has two months to comment on the proposal.