Agri-Mondo Inc. is in it's third year of the European Flavors campaign, bringing fruits like Italian black plums, pears, blood oranges and kiwis to Canada.
Agri-Mondo Inc. is in it's third year of the European Flavors campaign, bringing fruits like Italian black plums, pears, blood oranges and kiwis to Canada.

Agri-Mondo’s European Flavor push gains steam

Boucherville, Quebec-based importer Agri-Mondo Inc. is in the third year of its European Flavors campaign, bringing mostly Italian winter fruit to Canada.

Marketing manager Adriana Borsellino said the campaign is growing in popularity and has received strong support from Sobeys and Metro in Montreal.

This year’s campaign began in October with Italian black plums and will continue with pears, blood oranges and kiwis until May.

The campaign brings in fruit with high brix and high-end labels, Borsellino said.

CDS Foods’ name change goes smoothly

The former CDS Brokers, St. Laurent, Quebec, has changed its name to CDS Foods and unveiled a new logo and website, said warehouse manager Claude Nucci.

Nucci said 2013 has been a good year in terms of sales and growth.

Along with tropical fruits and vegetables, CDS specializes in ginger and garlic.

“The ginger market is on fire,” said Nucci, “with rising prices and a lack of supply.

“We have strong partners that keep us supplied, but the prices keep going up.”

Garlic sales are also increasing, he said.

Chenail nearly done upgrading warehouse

Chenail Fruits & Vegetables Inc. has almost completed renovations on its building near Highway 40 in Montreal’s east end.

Work inside the warehouse and offices has been completed, said Pierre-Luc Desrosiers, buyer, and work continues on the building’s exterior.

Of the innovative features installed, ventilation and cooling systems can be controlled remotely, Desrosiers said.

The warehouse has a new racking system and new docks for shipping and receiving.

An Apple application gives salesmen access to Chenail’s inventory so they can take orders on the road and send their worksheet directly to the warehouse.

As part of the makeover, Chenail is working on its Primus GFS certification, recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative.

A new website is also in the works.

Courchesne Larose to double new center’s area

Barely two years after moving into a new 125,000-square-foot distribution center in Montreal’s west end, wholesaler Courchesne Larose has announced it’s doubling the size of its operation.

“Our board of administration has decided we’re ready for the second phase of our project,” said Guy Milette, vice president of international sales and business development.

Milette said the expansion will double office and warehouse space and incorporate Courchesne’s two sister companies, Bar Imex and Bercy Foods, which handles organic produce.

“We want to regroup our companies under one roof to maximize space, limit transportation between the companies and see how we can improve the way we do things, ” he said.

Since all three companies now package produce, the change will create one large packaging department to maximize efficiency and food safety, he said.

Plans also include an expansion of Courchesne’s banana ripening rooms.

“Our weekly capacity now is about 48,000 boxes a week,” he said, “and we want to increase that to 65,000 boxes per week.”

C. Isabelle and Sons offers Zip Zap potatoes

Potato, onion and carrot grower C. Isabelle and Sons, St. Michel, Quebec, has introduced 1-pound bags of small yellow, white or red potatoes under the Zip Zap brand.

Vice president Mario Isabelle said the potatoes cook in the microwave in 8 minutes.

The three varieties are being sold in independent fruit and vegetable stores in Quebec for $1.50-2.

Jean Yves Boileau puts pear varieties on trial

Danny Boileau, a partner in Havelock, Quebec-based Jean Yves Boileau and Sons, has planted several new varieties of early pears, one a club variety, as part of a large-scale trial.

Believing there’s a market in Quebec for early pears, Boileau said he expects to have some fruit to sell next year to gauge consumer reaction.

“It won’t be a big volume,” he said, “but enough to show what we can do.”

The trial will also determine if the new varieties are suited to a northern climate and how the harvest would work with apples and pears, Boileau said.

Lassonde Specialties vacuum-packs fresh corn

For the first time, fresh Quebec corn will head across the border in the middle of winter.

Whole bicolor Sunbites cobs, vacuum-packed in Quebec within hours of harvesting in August, are now on sale in Metro stores and will appear in U.S. supermarkets in 2014.

Jean-François Bourdeau, vice president of marketing for Lassonde Specialties Inc., Boisbriand, Quebec, said local retailers are excited because the Canadian-grown corn offers summer-fresh flavor year-round with no added salt or additives.

The corn is reheated by boiling in its food-safe bag or by microwaving or grilling for a minute or two.

Response at the PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans in October was so positive, Bourdeau said Lassonde may run out of corn.

Quebec apple producers begin TV campaign 

Longueuil-based Quebec Federation of Apple Producers is using television and social media to remind consumers that Quebec apples are available year-round, not just in the fall.

Four new 10-second commercials, which run on TV and online until Feb. 9, highlight the characteristics and uses of Quebec’s four main apples varieties, empire, macintosh, spartan and cortland, said communications technician Genevieve Perigny.

The federation’s Facebook page, which has gained 44,000 fans in less than two years, gives apple enthusiasts a chance to enter two contests.

Between now and March, fans can register to win a year’s worth of groceries at a Quebec supermarket or a Microsoft Apple iPad, iPhone or iPad Mini.

Facebook fans chose the federation’s newest slogan: Good to munch all year long.

Vice president Stéphanie Levasseur said the federation put up highway billboards last year for the first time, which increased the visibility of its new logo.

Quebec Produce Growers Association open market

The Montreal region’s newest public market, in Longueuil, Quebec, is on track to open in mid-May, said Andre Plante, general manager of the Quebec Produce Growers Association.

Half the 50,000-square-foot market will be reserved for permanent vendors, he said, and the other half will be for temporary tenants.

The city of Longueuil gave the growers association the land and is in charge of publicizing the $8 million facility, said Plante. It will also contribute $400,000 a year for the next 10 years to subsidize rents for the growers.

The association also owns the La Prairie market on Montreal’s south shore.

If the Longueuil market works well, Plante said his association may build another market on the North Shore.

Saladexpress introduces vegetable mix trio

Saladexpress, St. Remi, Quebec, has three new standup pouches of fresh-cut vegetables with a seasoning mix for Quebec supermarkets.

Marketing coordinator Guillaume Brais-Leclerc said the Oriental mix features snow peas, broccoli, onions and peppers; the Provencal contains red and yellow peppers, zucchini and onions; and the Thai medley blends baby corn, red peppers, sliced carrots and onions.

The project took two years of development, said Brais-Leclerc, and the refrigerated pouches offer a 12-day shelf life.

The 10-ounce portion of vegetables, ideal for two servings, is ready in 5 minutes. The pouch retails for $3.99, he said, with two-for-$5 promotions planned.

Brais-Leclerc said Saladexpress is also working on an “extreme” cole slaw featuring kale, red cabbage, brussels sprouts and shredded carrots with a poppyseed dressing.

Veg Pro International adds Fresh Attitude salads

Sherrington, Quebec-based Veg Pro International Inc. has added salads to its Fresh Attitude line, said Pierre Dolbec, director of development and marketing.

The new family-size Greek salad comes with romaine and iceberg lettuce, cheese, croutons and a tomato-olive salsa dressing.

Dolbec said Veg Pro also has added a kale mix for East Coast supermarkets and several Montreal chains.

Two new individual kits are based on san marino, a mix of greens high in antioxidants, and peppery arugula, he said.