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The Bedrock of Quebec’s Produce Trade — Montreal Rocks

Perreault says it’s too early to tell how these chains will affect local produce businesses. “The Loblaw stores just recently opened, and as for Walmart, most people don’t really feel an impact now. Here in Montreal, it’s not in our habit yet to shop for groceries at Walmart—but they do have fruits and vegetables, and the prices are amazing.”

According to Pitsikoulis, the influx of chain stores has not had an impact on Canadawide. “I can’t say that we’ve been affected in any way, and our customers are not saying it’s negatively impacting their sales.”

Plante believes these big box stores are actually a very positive development for the Montreal produce market. “For us, it’s not bad news,” he says. “It’s good news because we have a larger service to offer. And for our growers, instead of having just three customers, now we have Loblaw and Walmart and Target and Giant Tiger. So it’s good for us, and we’re happy about it.”

However, produce suppliers that want to work with these new chain stores will face some incredibly stringent requirements. “Within the past year or so there has been an emergence of various different specifications requested by the chain stores,” explains Emmanuel Eveno, co-owner of FE Produce Inspection, Inc., based in Berthierville, about fifty miles northeast of Montreal along the St. Lawrence River.

“With an increasing market share, chain stores are seeking more customized and detailed inspections to include specifications such as sugar (brix) and acidity levels,” Eveno notes.  “Moreover, commodities today [must be] remarkably traceable, from pallet IDs to grower identification and pack dates.” 

The Future

Despite the many challenges, the Quebec produce industry continues to thrive thanks to the province’s high-traffic market, abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and burgeoning export business. 

“We love doing business in Quebec,” Rubini enthuses. “It truly is La Belle Province.”


Amy Bell is a professional freelance writer with more than ten years of writing and marketing experience.