What Happened To Parker's Real Maple After Shark Tank?

When business owners enter the Shark Tank they're well aware that they may not walk away with a deal. Even those who don't score a deal tend to see an uptick in sales due to the publicity from millions of viewers watching their episode. Joshua Parker was only 18 years old when he entered the tank to pitch his company, Parker's Real Maple. While diving into the tank at any age seems intimidating, it would appear extra daunting for a kid fresh out of high school. It didn't appear to be the case for Joshua Parker, who seemed calm, cool, and collected, even when hit with some tough love from the Sharks.

What made Parker's pitch so appealing was both his passion for maple products and that he had 3 years of business experience prior to coming on the tank. He pitched his pure maple syrup brand to Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavic, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Grenier, and Mark Cuban. Kevin joked around, saying that he was referred to as "maple man." Even though all the Sharks welcomed Parker with a warm reception and enjoyed his products, the final decision was not what Parker had hoped for.

A bittersweet moment

Parker's episode aired on October 21, 2016, during Season 8. When Parker entered the tank, he shared his story with the Sharks. He described how he'd become enamored with the maple-syrup-making process as an 11-year-old during a school field trip. In 2013 he launched his business from his family's farm with only 25 gallons of syrup. He was committed to ensuring that Americans knew the difference between pure maple syrup and sugary pancake syrup, and he wanted everyone in the country to have a chance to taste the real deal. Business continued to grow and by the time he reached the tank, he had accrued over $300,000 in sales of maple syrup and maple-flavored products.

Parker entered the tank asking for a $200,000 investment for 20% of his business. Even though all the Sharks loved the maple products, the lack of potential for growth made them a little uneasy. The product margins also weren't great, with a bottle costing over $8 to make and selling for $11.99. Parker explained to them that he was selling more than maple products: It was about the brand. He also mentioned that he had interest from Costco in carrying his product. But the Sharks weren't buying it. 

Despite how impressed the Sharks were with then-18-year-old Parker, they believed he was overestimating the products' potential growth, and ultimately the business' profit margins were too small for them to bite.

What happened after the tank?

In 2019, on the company's website, Parker described how Parker's Maple fared after his appearance on "Shark Tank." Even though he didn't get a deal, he looked back fondly on his time in the tank and on the advice the Sharks gave him. Immediately following the "Shark Tank" appearance, Parker's Real Maple boomed, and they received over 7000 orders in the week following the episode. Parker explained on his site, "This was more than I could have ever imagined. And, if you've been a customer long enough (since that week), you know that it took us a LONG time to get most of the orders out." 

Parker used the Shark's criticisms to grow and even followed the advice of Mark Cuban to put the calorie count on the packaging of his maple cotton candy. "I walked out of there with Sharks telling how to make my product more successful — what to push, what to do," he said in an interview with Time Warner Cable News. After the initial "Shark Tank" success, Parker was determined not to join the ranks of companies that don't capitalize on the "Shark Tank" bump and end up going out of business. He succeeded in keeping the dream alive, and the amount of orders and sheer volume became too great to continue producing at the family farm. Parker's Real Maple Syrup moved production in 2017 to another location in his hometown.

Sweet sales for Parker's Real Maple

The company continued to grow, and so did Parker's family. He shared on his blog that in 2017 he got married and had a son. He explained that fatherhood made running a business more challenging, but he seems to have overcome the obstacles in style. Parker's Maple had a $10 million valuation by 2020. In June of that year, Parker's Real Maple was acquired by The Forest Farmers, a company started by Michael Farrell, one of Parker's earliest teachers and mentors. The Forest Farmers had over 10,000 acres over two locations in New York and Vermont. The Forest Farmers shared the same mission as Parker, to bring quality, pure maple syrup countrywide while focusing on sustainability efforts, and they planned to keep Parker on as sales and marketing manager.

Parker's Real Maple continues to be a major player in the syrup business, which is estimated to be worth over $2 billion by 2028. Parker's Real Maple's variety of syrups, maple butter, and maple cotton candy, are available at national grocers like Whole Foods, Walmart, and H-E-B. 

What makes Parker's so unique?

Parker's Real Maple was founded with the goal of creating real maple syrup that not only tastes better but is better for you. Unfortunately, a lot of maple and maple syrup products on the market don't even contain real maple. Parker set out to create a 100% pure alternative that was sustainably harvested. The brand's maple products are gluten-free, fat-free, vegan, nut-free, and keto and paleo diet-friendly. When the company was acquired by The Forest Farmers, it continued its commitment to conservation, sustainability, and the highest quality, pure organic maple products. 

The company hasn't had a strong social media presence since 2021 when it launched the maple syrup squeeze bottle. The latest product launch appears to have been in 2022 when the company introduced a naturally reduced sugar version of maple syrup. It's unclear if Joshua Parker still works for Forest Farmers, but we can only hope he's still pursuing his dreams and enjoying his maple syrup.