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Vast and Varied Trade

The latest from Montreal and Quebec’s robust wholesale market

Even with the stiff competition and the changing buying patterns of chain stores, wholesale business appears to be relatively healthy and even poised for growth. “The wholesalers are reporting that their business continues to grow,” notes Marie Gosselin, president and interim CEO at the Quebec Produce Marketing Association (QPMA), based in St.-Leonard, a borough located about 20 miles from downtown Montreal.

“We know Loblaw and Walmart buy directly from the growers and generally don’t use the wholesalers,” continues Gosselin. “However, many of the specialty fruit stores and smaller retailers that have closed in recent years are or will be reopening, and they will provide more business for the wholesalers.”

Selling Local
The Marché Central, however, is still where local growers bring their harvests for increasingly popular seasonal direct-to-consumer sales.

André Plante, general director of the Quebec Produce Growers Association in Montreal, says that until growers find a more suitable location for a market, they plan to stay at the Marché Central.

“There is a platform for about 100 growers,” Plante says. “The owner of the property would like us to move, to build the last phase of the proposed retail market, but until there is a better place for us to go, we will not go.” Plante says the association has a 40-year lease and with nowhere to relocate, they’re drawing up plans for a redesigned platform to better serve customers.

The buy-local trend remains a bright spot in selling fresh produce, both in Montreal and throughout Quebec, and is supported by all levels of the industry, including the press.

“The biggest trend everyone is talking about is buy-local,” says Gosselin. “Local produce tastes better, is good for the economy and good for the environment. New stores opening up are capitalizing on this trend and offering both specialty and local products.”

Even the chains advertise and sell local produce throughout the season, confirms Plante, which is good for growers and business in general.

Export Opportunities
This year, in addition to a better exchange rate, the Montreal-Quebec region experienced exceptional weather.

“For about 2 years, we’ve had very stable weather,” Plante observes. “No major storms or heat waves, and this has produced a very good yield. When combined with the exchange rate, this year has been the best year for growers in the last 10 years.”