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Mixing It Up In Montreal & Quebec

Fresh tips from wholesalers and retailers

Before Montreal and Quebec City became the two largest urban centers in Quebec, these areas in the St. Lawrence River Valley were particularly well-suited to growing corn, beans, and squash. Drawing from this long history of cultivation, the region continues to offer the Quebeçois, and Canadians as a whole, a vibrant and expanding produce industry. Find out what’s new and trending with growers, wholesalers, and retailers.

Demographics & Food Distribution
A few of the trends shaking things up in the Quebec perishables industry include changing demographics and the quest to provide better access to fresh produce. Members of the industry are not only trying to better serve diverse ethnic groups, but are hoping to reduce the incidence of food deserts in the province.

The “Dépanneur Fraîcheur” is one such program, conceived by several Montreal nonprofits to stock fresh produce at local dépanneurs or convenience stores to improve local health. Similar programs were piloted in Toronto and Ottawa, and although less than a dozen stores are currently participating, proponents hoped to expand throughout the city.

Another way to distribute food and cut down on waste is BonApp, a mobile app to connect Montreal residents and businesses with extra food to those in need. The program has five refrigerated drop-off points for bulk fresh produce and unopened food products. BonApp hopes to provide an alternative to the trash bin for unspoiled fruits and vegetables across the city.

When it comes to demographics, Quebec is a melting pot. In addition to the growing population of Hispanic buyers, Middle Eastern consumers are predicted to become the province’s largest minority in just a few years, by 2020. Studies also show that both Arab and Hispanic consumers tend to buy groceries more often than their neighbors, making both key demographics for suppliers to target over the next few years.

Most merchants no longer consider ethnic foods outside the mainstream. Canadawide Fruit Wholesalers Inc.’s president George Pitsikoulis agrees, but points out that this is not a new phenomenon from just a few years ago. He credits demand for ethnic fruits and vegetables with not only driving sales but increasing awareness among all buyers and sellers. “The influx of diverse ethnic immigration has driven our industry’s offerings and varieties of fresh produce for decades.”

La Place des Producteurs
As the largest province in Canada, Quebec was on pace to bring in over $2.5 billion in crop receipts for 2016, a slight increase over the previous year according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Much of this bounty makes its way to la Place des Producteurs, Montreal’s well known marketplace.

La Place des Producteurs (la Place) is located at the corner of Métropolitain and l’Acadie boulevards at the Marché Central, and is the largest wholesale market of fruits and vegetables in Eastern Canada. Although the primary season is from May to October, la Place is open year-round and features as many as 150 tenants during peak season. Vendors supply a wealth of customers, including area wholesalers and distributors, retailers, other markets, restaurants, and public institutions across Quebec, eastern Ontario, and the Maritimes.