Since the beginning of our tour of Quebec, we have had the pleasure of sharing the road with the people from Aliments du Québec. We have been able to promote the Quebec agri-food industry and partner with Aliments du Québec. It was coherent to rely on an organization that guarantees the origin of the products, that it controls and verifies.
Furthermore, we wanted to contribute to the 3rd edition of the Institutions Eat Local! event. Under this theme, we traveled several kilometers to visit suppliers who offer product lines for both the restaurant and institutional sectors. During this week of activities, a very interesting collaboration was created between the establishments participating in the event and our visited businesses. Indeed, the generosity of Novali and Chalifoux Dairy, among others, allowed us to offer muffins and yogurts to students of the Université du Québec à Montréal and Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, in Longueuil.
Photo credit © Maryse Boyce
Our next three stops included: Novali Gourmet, Paul le Gourmet, and Chalifoux Dairy
Specialized in bakery and pastry products, Novali Gourmet is now a leader in its field. It is often said that entrepreneurs create their own business opportunities when they are not entirely satisfied with a product or service they use themselves. This was the case in 1989 for Luc Benoît and Francine Thériault, the couple who founded the company. Operating a butcher shop and a bakery in Montreal and dissatisfied with the quality of their supplier’s pie shells, they started making their own. In 1991, the craze was so strong that they sold their business and started making pie shells exclusively. It was the beginning of a great adventure and a great family success. Then, in the early 2000s, Novali Gourmet added muffins, cookies, and raw dough to its product line.
We were welcomed by Dominique Benoit, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing at Novali. We could feel Dominique’s great pride in showing us around and we could directly observe the thoroughness and hard work of the entire team. In total, 80 employees work during the day, evening, and part of the night to create different products. It’s a real anthill where employees produce 3000 to 4000 products per hour! We saw that they work on three production lines, one for pie dough, another for muffins, and finally, one for cookies.
Once the plant tour is over, Dominique Benoit presents the new visual identity of Novali. The company took advantage of the pandemic to reposition its brand image by emphasizing the company’s family spirit.
The next day we visited Berthierville to visit our vacuum-packed protein supplier, Gourmet FT, which is now called Paul le Gourmet, in honour of their grandfather. They quickly explained the marketing shift and the reasons behind the repositioning of the brand. These explanations allow us to understand the family chemistry of the place. Paul Forget was in fact a butcher by trade and passionate about the world of proteins. He passed on this passion to the next four generations. We were able to meet the heirs of his passion, from his son to his grandsons!
Today, after more than ten years in the industry, 30 employees, and a new brand image, we can say that the Paul le Gourmet team can be proud of the family business it has built. As experts in the field of vacuum-packed proteins, they are making a very clear promise: to offer quality products and services that will build solid relationships with local chefs. All this, of course, while promoting local products. Paul le Gourmet, a new member of Aliments du Québec, currently has four products bearing the Aliments du Québec signature: pork back ribs, pulled pork, and veal roast. However, we must mention that several other products are in the process of being created! Offering local products, prepared by local people, remains a fundamental value for the company.
Their product portfolio is also constantly evolving to meet many of the specific needs of restaurateurs and institutions. As we toured the facility, one word kept ringing in our heads: efficiency. The entire plant is designed according to the Toyota production system, which promotes the elimination of waste and production inconsistencies. Everything is designed to maximize day and evening production. It’s quite remarkable!
Finally, we visited Sorel-Tracy to learn more about the fascinating world of dairy farming. Next stop: the Chalifoux Dairy! The Chalifoux family is in fact the creator of the Maison Riviera brand, known for its authentic dairy products.
The brand was born in 1920, in the Montérégie region between the St. Lawrence and Richelieu rivers, which was once called Riviera. It was also the name of the local newspaper in Sorel-Tracy. Everything pointed to this emblematic name which reflects the company’s desire to promote local products. The Maison Riviera team constantly chooses healthy and natural products, and favors local sourcing, in addition to partnering with eco-responsible suppliers and growers.
With over 100 years of experience in the dairy industry, Maison Riviera is a master of innovation in terms of unique and refined tastes. As it is constantly looking for new taste pellets that meet current consumer trends such as those associated with well-being, health, concern for the environment, and, of course, the pleasure of eating, it is not surprising to see that Maison Riviera has won several awards in the innovation category.
We had the privilege of visiting the production plant where these innovative products are made. It is always impressive to see the number of machines, procedures, and product analyses required to ensure that nothing is contaminated in a dairy production. From the reception of the milk to the environmentally responsible packaging of the product, every step is meticulously controlled. In addition, Laiterie Chalifoux offers a wide variety of products: cheeses, yogurts, butter, creams, and vegetable delights, some of which are organic, lactose-free, or made from goat’s milk. All these products are very much in line with market trends. It is also important to mention that the research and development department of Maison Riviera’s products is remarkable and inspiring!
We can see that the three companies visited during the Institutions Eat Local week are all about innovation. Whether it’s the technologies used to respect the environment or the products developed, there is no doubt that local businesses know how to adapt to emerging market trends!