HydroSerre Mirabel hires vice president

Daniel Terrault has been appointed vice president of sales and marketing for HydroSerre Mirabel, a major hydroponic lettuce grower in Mirabel, Quebec.

Terrault, brother of Hydro-Serre’s president and chief executive officer Sylvain Terrault, assumed the post May 28 from Pierre Dolbec, who resigned from Mirabel after eight years as vice president of sales to become manager of development and marketing for Les Jardins Paul Cousineau, in Saint-Constant, Quebec.

Terrault said he has spent the past 27 years in the textile industry, and owned a Quebec manufacturing plant in Quebec that still produces items for Gap, J. Crew and American Eagle.

“I’m as green as a leaf,” said Terrault. “It will be a new challenge for me.”

Les Productions Margiric rents added acreage

Quebec’s uncertain weather has led Les Productions Margiric in Laval to “split the risk” and rent 1,000 acres of land in Chatham, Ontario, to grow a second crop of its lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers and cantaloupe.

“We tested it last year, and the weather was much better in Chatham,” said marketing director Mario Cloutier.

The company has also purchased a small warehouse with a precooling facility.

“Now we’re able to supply Quebec chain stores with Quebec product, and we can tell Ontario chains that we are growing produce in their backyard,” said Cloutier, adding that staff from Laval visit the southwestern Ontario site regularly.

Margiric, which markets under the Gifar brand, has 3,000 acres under production in Laval this year.

Patates Dolbec opens vegetable plant

Legubec, the processing arm of Patates Dolbec of St.-Ubalde, north of Montreal, has opened a second plant in Portneuf to supply partially cooked vegetables to Quebec hotels, restaurants and institutions.

“The demand is growing for our precut and ready-to-eat vegetables,” said president Stephan Dolbec.

The original Legubec plant can peel and process more than 500,000 pounds of potatoes a week into any shape, from fries and cubes to parisienne cut, along with vegetables such as onions and carrots.

A third company called Coac, which is just over a year old, processes smaller orders, much of it manually, for restaurants and chains, Dolbec said.

Pommes Ma-gic hopes to triple sales of apples

Sliced apples in a single-serve bag may be one of the healthiest, most kid-friendly snacks around, but Sebastien Alix, general manager of Pommes Ma-gic in Rougement, Quebec, said many consumers still aren’t sure what it is.

Alix, 33, who launched his product nationally in 2007, plans to add more information to the package to help meet his goal of tripling sales by the end of the year. He also plans to increase volume to retail and foodservice.

One challenge is to win over a major retailer who has had a bad experience with a similar product, Alix said.

“They don’t necessarily give you the chance to show it can work.”

While sales are brisk during the school year among moms and kids 5 to 13, they tend to slow down during the summer, he said. His best-selling format is a clamshell of five 2-ounce snack packs.

Each Pommes Ma-gic pack contain 75% sliced Quebec red gala and empire apples and 25% granny smith, usually from Washington.

Alix, father of two school-age girls, said a whole apple is often too big for kids.

“We need to introduce portions of fruit in the lunchbox to ensure kids are eating fruits and vegetables,” he said. “We know we’re doing a good thing.”

QPMA and CPMA join forces on French PLUs

Importers shipping produce to Quebec with bilingual Price Look-Up stickers can now consult a list of French names approved by the Quebec Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association.

The 25-page bilingual list, which should be posted on both websites by the end of June, took months to compile and is extremely detailed, said QPMA executive director Sophie Perreault. The project is in response to PLU questions both organizations have received.

A crisis communications committee formed last year has completed its plan for Quebec’s fresh and processed fruit and vegetables.

“This plan will help our industry be proactive and allow all players in the chain to act as real partners to rapidly resolve crises, minimize their impact, reassure the public and protect the reputations we work so hard to earn on a daily basis,” Perreault said.

Perreault sits on the committee with Andre Plante of the Quebec Produce Growers Association and Patrice Juneau of the Union of Agricultural Producers.

Depending on the situation, Perreault said committee members will join forces with the heads of any sector affected by a crisis and share their expertise.

Veg Pro adds acreage for spinach, lettuce

An alliance with CAMS Inc., a vegetable grower in Sherrington, Quebec, in March gives Veg Pro International, Sherrington, much needed extra land for its Fresh Attitude baby lettuce and spinach production, said executive vice president Anthony Fantin.

“CAMS’ 1,200 acres was already neighboring a lot of our land,” Fantin said. “The merger assures us of continual growth in lettuce acreage since we’re short of land in Canada.”

Fantin said CAMS will continue to be a major carrot and onion producer in eastern and central Canada.

Veg Pro’s biggest challenge now, he said, is to integrate land allocation and growing practices and manage the influx of people.

Fantin said Veg Pro is also expanding its packing plant in Sherrington this fall to 100,000 square feet, and renovating its plant in Belle Glade, Fla.

This spring, the company was awarded Best Product at the 2010 Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Vancouver, British Columbia, for its four new Fresh Attitude ready-to-eat salads with a resealable film. Two more kits are in the works, Fantin said.

Veg Pro has also received the 2010 Canadian Export Business Award From SIAL in Montreal, the Canadian arm of the Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire based in France.