Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Market offering and analysis for grower


identifiler
 Share

Recommended Posts

This may completely off topic...

I hope everyone is reviewing what they see in there plates "vegetable" wise since we should all see local produce starting to flow in. Of course, to the exception of producers with green houses.

Salads should be absolutely fresh, crisp and not to thick. The last heat wave has pushed many varieties to start flowering. Red, Radicio, frisee and certainly rocquette should be standard. I have noticed in groceries just how gross some of the salads are (especially the california stuff).

Also showing up for quite a while are rapinis, all beans, sugar snap, (Carouby beans, flageollet not still showing in outside grow).

At this point, season is more than perfect for a good production of tomatoes, melons.

Zuchini flowers and vegetables are peeking right now. Look for those tempura dipped zuchini flowers !

Strawberries of course, the early rainy season has created stunting and drop of flower, production is much lower but still managed to get two crates of organic beauties (at a price).

All that said, my question goes to restaurant owners who relie on some local producers for finer products that are unique. Do you see your producers making a good living by farming standard. The high end specialists with heated green houses, organic culture, specialised in rare or heirloom varieties, are these folks seeing growth in their market ?

In the mass market there is a 25% growth yearly in organic production and the trend seems to be fairly solid (I am of course refering to organic not in the religious, flaky kind of way). However, one could always argue that these increase in production mainly come from giants in California who sac millions of baby carrots and thick mesclun, or milk producers who are at the mercy of two or three buyers, or farmers that are suddenly being madated by Loblaws to offer the cheapest, highest volume of tomatoes to make ketchup under the president choice label....

I'm talking more about outfits like Mr. Daigneault. Or the example that Laprise gives on his website of this lady who gave up office to make a small plot of production for a few customers.

I don't see myself farming intensively, but I could see some birds and some very rare vegetables. Can the chef here comment on those low volume high end producers. I'm thinking about buying a gentlemen farm in the Pinaccle or dunham area in the next year or so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am curious about Daigneault and Laprise. Could you give a few more details about each of them so that the non-Montrealers could follow the discussion better?

Do they have anything to do with Chez Louis at the Jean-Talon Market who specializes in the vegetables of the terroir, purveying to the best restaurants?

Related to your question is the Loblaws hypermarkets versus the other supermarket networks in Quebec. I understand that Loblaws is an Ontario chain that has started to expand into Quebec over the past few years. What struck me during this last visit to the Province is the proliferation of what I assume are locally owned and operated supermarkets that seem to be independent parts of larger networks. In Magog, the Metro Supermarket is Metro Pouffle. In Quebec near the Old-Port, it is Metro Gagnon. I assume that these are comparable to the other network, IGA, which initially took over a lot of the old Steinberg sites when that old chain went out of business.

I wonder how these markets actually function -- are they in fact independent, but form a cooperative buying unit to reduce their costs? If they are independent, to what degree can they form a market for the kind of artisanal fruits and vegetables you are dreaming of growing in the Eastern Townships? Could you sell directly to Metro Pouffle or to the IGA in Magog, if you wanted to?

By the way the President's Brand is also marketed in the States by various supermarket chains. I have always assumed it is a US-based label, rather than distinctly Canadian and that it is independent of the chains that stock it, but rather simply supplies them. The matter came up some months ago in a posting by Jinmyo, if I am correct.

The interest in the distinctive regional heirloom products of the land is one of the most remarkable aspects of Quebec gastronomy, as I have observed it over the past nearly thirty years. Of course this phenomenon is not limited to Quebec, but I think for reasons distinctive to the politics and culture of the Province, it has flourished much more successfully here than in any other part of North America.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chez Louis is the only store that sells Daignault's products to the public. Otherwise it's all direct to restaurants. Chez Louis also doubles all of Daignault's prices, so don't think it's always the farmer who is cashing in :hmmm: .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vivre manger, Yes, Mr. Daigneault is a producer for local restaurants. His market was developped directly in retsaurants (notably at Toque, but also at brunoise and others). Laprise is the chef at Toque and has recently introduced a new producer on the web site of his restaurant. I think we have entered the third step of market (originally producers just bulked and ropped everything at the central market where purchasers just bought what cam through, then a few specialised growers got recognition and demand for very specific items and make them available at market, and now it seems they may only produce for a small number of restaurants, therefore a very close relationship).

Markets are mostly populated with distributors, some of them have the respect of offering low price but also personnaly picking the produce, and so even if it's the same cucumber offered, the guy at Jean Talon picked the nicest lot, while the guy at IGA just entered the required stock in a computer.

Some distributors also offer special products with pride such as Chez Louis. And finally, a few of the stalls are actual producers.

Reguarding the major chains. Well, there is one precise answer for you: If the supermarket is corporated owned, it's only going to offer good prices on toilet paper and nothing else much. If it is privately owned, you can expect a very nice tailored system. Examples of that are IGA Lambert in st bruno or IGA Louise Menard in Nun's island, St-Lambert and Guy Favreau complex. I know all these managers will have a product if you ask him to buy it and keep it. For example in St-Bruno, the organic section is really good, we also ask him to stock on all the high end dairy, he always stocks it well.

Marche Plouffe is perhaps one of the best example of that, it could be any banner, in this case a metro. But Plouffe has Magog all over it, it's the supermarket with the general store vibe. He takes a lot of pride in having local Highland Meat, and tons of other products. When these folks are on the floor, the place is usually top shape... My father lives close, that's why I know the place (we stay away from downtown Magog like it was the plague there...)

I'm not necessarily interested in even small volumes but more in growing some very rare varieties of vegetables and release them as fresh as possible. I'm just curious to find out just how high someone would pay for a very rare tomatoe. I mean, if my kitchen is full of this stuff, how come it's still so uncommon in restaurants and markets. Other than miniature zuchinis, mesclun, bleue potato and black radishes, there's still quite a void that could be offered.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok. So Supermarkets in Quebec in 100 words or less:

Loblaws broke into the Quebec market by buying the Provigo chain. Provigo at the time (in 1999) had just under 300 stores, approx half of which were corporately owned, the rest were independant grocers (like the IGA model) Moreover (and interesting for Loblaws) was the Maxi chain (roughly 80 stores) of large surface outlets similar to the new model of Loblaws stores in Ontario. With the acquisition Loblaw, became Canada's largest grocery reatiler by far.

Metro-Richelieu has more stores than Provigo - but not as many urban locations. I think closer to 70 - 75% of the stores are owned independantly. As a grocery wholesaler, they are a powerhouse in Quebec, but will likely be tha target of some sort of corporate takeover in the coming years.

Sobey's, Canada's second largest grocery chain (or at least, they used to be) has also made a foray into the quebec market - but not in the same scale as Loblaw. Last I heard they had about a dozen corporate-owned stores in the province.

Finally IGA, is, as the name suggests, a large co-op of independant grocers.

In 1992, the Steinberg chain went bankrupt - the Steinberg family had previously been forced to sell their interest in the company, and with the help of the Caisse another Quebec entrepreneur (forget his name) had taken over restructuring of the company, but to no avail. The big 3 in quebec (Provigo, Metro, & IGA) at the time divided up the remnants in Quebec (included the beloved 5 Saisons stores), and their stores outside the province were purchased by A&P.

Whew...:wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In 1992, the Steinberg chain went bankrupt - the Steinberg family had previously been forced to sell their interest in the company, and with the help of the Caisse another Quebec entrepreneur (forget his name) had taken over restructuring of the company, but to no avail. The big 3 in quebec (Provigo, Metro, & IGA) at the time divided up the remnants in Quebec (included the beloved 5 Saisons stores), and their stores outside the province were purchased by A&P.

It was Socanav head Michel Gaucher whom the Caisse de dépôt et de placement backed in the Steinberg takeover. If I recall correctly, the Caisse ended up losing around $450 million of their, er, our money when the house came tumbling down. Good thing they learned their lesson, eh?

Edited by carswell (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Roth, Sirois, Scraire and Monty... throw them parasites in prison and loose the key...

But to stay on topic, it is quite interesting that they purchased Mount Stephen... I might actually approuve of that since the landmark wasn't finding any buyers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as I understand from my members guide, the members of the club own the property and it is "not for profit" in order to obtain heritage designations from City of Montreal

But you are right, there are a ton of CDP people. Its actually more francophone now than anglophone, which would never have been thought of 50 years ago. Wild how things change.

Nice place for a small wedding, food is decent...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Loblaws broke into the Quebec market by buying the Provigo chain. Provigo at the time (in 1999) had just under 300 stores, approx half of which were corporately owned, the rest were independant grocers (like the IGA model) Moreover (and interesting for Loblaws) was the Maxi chain (roughly 80 stores) of large surface outlets similar to the new model of Loblaws stores in Ontario. With the acquisition Loblaw, became Canada's largest grocery reatiler by far.

Metro-Richelieu has more stores than Provigo - but not as many urban locations. I think closer to 70 - 75% of the stores are owned independantly. As a grocery wholesaler, they are a powerhouse in Quebec, but will likely be tha target of some sort of corporate takeover in the coming years.

Sobey's, Canada's second largest grocery chain (or at least, they used to be) has also made a foray into the quebec market - but not in the same scale as Loblaw. Last I heard they had about a dozen corporate-owned stores in the province.

Finally IGA, is, as the name suggests, a large co-op of independant grocers.

The Maxi stores aren't really like the new Loblaws Marketplace stores if the Maxi store I shopped at in metro Toronto is any indication. Maxi stores felt like a store that was half grocery store and half Zellers/Wal-Mart. The new Loblaws Marketplace stores are more like grocery stores that have expanded into non-food lines.

I don't think that Metro-Richelieu will be taken over by any Canadian corporation. The only options would be Loblaws or Sobeys both of which have substantial interests in Quebec already. The government forced Loblaws to sell off the Provigo-owned Loeb stores in Ottawa when Loblaws purchased Provigo.

Sobeys supplies groceries for IGA stores throughout eastern Canada. In Ontario they appear to be attempting to move away from the IGA name towards Sobeys for their bigger stores.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

that's right Wild P,

The stoers you're refering were a part of the Maxi banner, but we're referred to as Maxi & Co. and approximately 1/3 of the retail surface was devoted to non-food items. I don't believe there was more than a dozen or so of those stores - and only 3-4 in the Toronto area...

I agree wiht you about any pruchase of Metro-Richelieu - I figured that it would be a large US grocer that might have aspirations for market expansion....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ABG you are sort of right, as least on paper the members are the owners. In 1996 the Caisse, effectively took over The Mount Stephen Club by becoming their primary morgage holder. This was not done cause of their love for this montreal insistution, but for business reasons. J.C.S. had a dream of purchasing the parking lot that runs along De Maisoneuve and De La Montagne and back onto the club's parking lot. With the parking lot and club in hand he was to build Montreal's grandest hotel, he claimed it would make the Ritz look like a youth hostel. Mount Stephen would serve as part of this hotel, al la Hemsley Palace, Le Square Philips etc. Those plans fell through when the market turned and the parking lot owner wouldn't lower his price. As soon as the ink dried on the morgage papers CDP seized control of the board of directors, fired the g.m. and since has run the club, not the members.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I were a more cynical person I would think that certain real estate developers are behind the plans to remove "unsightly" parking lots and replace them with office buildings and/or condominiums. The city would have us think that they are trying to beautify the downtown core and force people to use mass transit. They are probably more interested ( read "drooling over") in the taxes these new buildings will generate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With the new plans proposed for Montreal's down-town parking lots, perhaps the site will be turned into a shelter for the homeless or low-cost housing for the needy, how droll a thought!

If the parking lots go - they better come up with a MUCH more agressive attitude towards public tranportation. No parking, no transportation, no reason to come to town to EAT. It will be tha death of our beloved restaurants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cole, didn't know about the CDP owning the morgage on the joint. But as for the Board, since so many CDP people are members I guess it wasn't hard to get there own people elected.

Most members are too apathetic to care who sits on the board.

As for JCS dream of a hotel, the Remstar people stole his thunder for sure with the St. James and Daniel Langlois is setting up rooms at 357C. Montreal doesn't need more rooms!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...