The Quebec Produce Marketing Association’s 71st annual conference in the eastern region of Charlevoix, along the St. Lawrence River, was equal parts work and fun.
At the general meeting, the board presented its strategic plan for 2018 to 2022, which aims to make QPMA the go-to fruit and vegetable expert for all sectors, from government to media.
The board also announced that after 14 years, QPMA’s J'aime 5 a 10 par jour! (I love 5 to 10 a day!) is getting a makeover. Now known as J’aime Fruits Legumes — I (heart) Fruits and Veggies — the logo features a single heart with all the colors of the food rainbow.
“We wanted to get away from numbers and imposing 5 to 10 portions on people and put more focus on the pleasure of eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” said nutritionist and spokeswoman Julie DesGroseilliers. A new website, Ilovefruitsandveggies.ca, features recipes, tips, trends and free guides for download.
Guest speakers echoed the theme of the conference, Winning through Innovation. Jean-Marc De Jonghe, vice president of Digital Products with Quebec’s La Presse newspaper, was at the heart of the team that transformed a century-old newspaper into the interactive La Presse + tablet edition. The last print edition appeared on Dec. 31, 2017.
Because 30% of the skills considered important today in all fields will be irrelevant in the next four to five years, De Jonghe urged delegates to jump on the next curve and embrace new skills, though being a beginner is always uncomfortable.
“Having a good idea is the easy part,” he said. “Quit talking and start doing. Execution is what matters, and you need a good team to make it real.”
During the industry brunch, Chef Guillaume Cantin shared his innovative project to reduce waste at retail stores. His La Transformerie team collects unsold produce from Montreal retailers, transforms it into products such as fruit and vegetable spreads and sells it back to the retailers.
Bringing younger generations into QPMA has been an ongoing project since 2012, when the first Next Generation intern was chosen. Applicants 18 to 35 must have worked in the industry at least three years with one year of decision-making experience. Outgoing president Francis Berube, Sobeys Quebec, noted that three former interns are now on the QPMA board including newly-elected Pierre-Simon Murdock, owner of Morille Quebec. During the year the intern visits companies in all sectors and attends industry meetings, conferences and social functions.
This year’s Next Gen intern is Danny Boileau, fourth-generation apple grower and co-owner of Jean-Yves Boileau & Son in Havelock, Quebec, which grows more than 200 acres of apples and pears, rarely seen in Quebec.
“I want to be as close to the decision-makers as possible to learn from them and understand what’s going on,” said Boileau, who’s introducing his first crop of the scab-resistant French apple Ariane this fall. “As a young grower, I also want to have a voice and share my vision.”
Fun and Games
QPMA is always full of fun and surprises. During the futuristic theme night celebration, Captain Cosmos walked on stage with his robots. Actor Claude Steben was last seen on his popular sci-fi TV quiz show Les Satellipopettes, which ran from 1975-85 in Quebec.
This year’s team-building activity was a Grand Rally, which sent eight teams around the Manoir Richelieu property in golf carts. Challenges included fishing, playing pool and mini-golf.