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The Bedrock of Quebec’s Produce Trade — Montreal Rocks

The most expansive province in Canada, Quebec’s fertile land stretches for nearly 600,000 square miles and encompasses more than eight million French-speaking residents. The largest city within Quebec’s borders is Montreal, named after Mount Royal—the triple-peaked hill that towers over the bustling city. Together, Montreal and Quebec are vital to Canada’s agriculture industry.

Quebec’s Prolific Produce Industry

The agri-food industry is a major contributor to Quebec’s economy, employing nearly 12 percent of the province’s workforce. Each year, Quebec growers harvest a bounty of fresh vegetables, including tomatoes, corn, potatoes, lettuce, squash, turnips, and cabbage.

Together, growers in Quebec and Ontario account for more than three-quarters of Canada’s total vegetable sales.  In 2011, Quebec growers planted 18,420 acres of corn that generated more than 12,000 tons of total production. The province also produced nearly 110,000 tons of carrots, more than 87,000 tons of cabbage, 58,000 tons of lettuce and nearly 64,000 tons of dry onions.

Also a leading fruit grower, Quebec is responsible for a quarter of Canada’s annual fruit sales. The province is the world’s third largest cranberry producer and a major supplier of wild blueberries and strawberries.  In 2011, Quebec produced nearly 121,000 tons of apples, almost 56,000 tons of cranberries, 31,000 tons of blueberries and close to 12,000 tons of strawberries.

With a production capacity that greatly exceeds the province’s consumption requirements, Quebec ships half of its produce to outside markets—and has surpassed Canadian and worldwide growth rates for the past ten years. 

Thanks to its central location, Quebec can quickly and easily ship to provinces throughout Canada as well as to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Illinois, and throughout the U.S. Midwest. “Montreal is close to the important [U.S.] markets, and it’s central to the rest of Canada,” says Sophie Perreault, executive director of the Quebec Produce Marketing Association (QPMA). “Being in Montreal, we can ship to our major partners in six hours.” 

A Thriving Terminal Market

Montreal’s terminal market, known as the Place des Producteurs, is the largest fruit and vegetable wholesale market in Eastern Canada. As a key market, it’s open year-round and the heart of Quebec’s produce sales, serving retailers, wholesale distributors, public markets, restaurants, and an array of other institutions from across the province. During Quebec’s peak growing season (May to October), the market hosts more than 150 growers who sell an array of locally grown and imported fruits and vegetables.