Mégantic Region: Agrofood Region Par Excellence!
If wood processing is central to the economic development within the Mégantic region, the agrofood industry is as much important and is in expansion. Thanks to the local creativity, a very diverse natural environment and a growing demand in this sector for local products, the Mégantic region is well positioned to take advantage of the numerous opportunities ahead.
A Crucial Element
The entrepreneurs’s savoir-faire in creating new products with the local produce will inspire many. Interesting opportunities and new markets are discovered in the agro foresty sector:
Maple Syrup Production
Maple Products and Related Products
- Value-added applications: flavor classification, AOC label, antioxidant properties, pasteurized maple sap, anti-inflammatory properties, liver health, anti-cancer, pro and pre biotics
- Researchers from the University of Rhode Island: 54 health-beneficcompounds (five unique compounds, of which one has been named “Quebecol”)
- “Superfood”, biopharmaceutics, cosmetics
- Many R&D centers : Université Laval, FPAQ, ACER, University of Tokyo…
- Growing export markets: Europe, Japan, etc.
- World food exposition (Foodex) : meetings with specialized distributors from Québec and Ontario
Agro forestry (other opportunities)
Non-wood Forest Products
- Maple sap, birch
- Medicinal and edible plants
- Nut trees and mushrooms
- Biomass – energy, essential oils, polyphenols, carbon credits (2013)
- Christmas trees
- Wild fruits, wild shrubs (ex. serviceberry, American ginseng, European wild ginger, cohosh…)
- Products from the forest: contain more active ingredients
The Agrofood Industry
Québec – One of the most competitive regions in North America in agrofood processing
- A reliable, clean, plentiful and low-cost energy (hydro-electricity)
- Aboundant, high quality drinking water
- Sugar prices: more competitive in Canada compared to the U.S. (no tariff protection)
- Qualified workforce trained in agrofood specialized schools
- World-renowned agrofood R&D centers
- Attractive fiscal environment for R&D and production equipment acquisition
Soil and Temperature – The Granit Region
The period free of frost varies according to the topography of the territory. The Granit region can count on 80 to 95 days without frost; a small area of the North Western part benefits from a longer period (95-110 days). The zone for permanent agriculture represents 53% of the 273,180 ha (hectares) of the county (144,686 ha). Agriculture enterprises occupy 25% of the territory (68,920 ha – fields in production and forests included).
Agriculture and agrofood industry – MRC du Granit (2010)*:
- 591 agriculture enterprises operate within the Granit region
- 22.9% of total agriculture enterprises in Estrie (2,581)
- Sales: $83.7M or 15.5% of Estrie’s total ($541.5M)
- The Granit region possesses 13.2% of the Estrie’s cultivated areas
- Leader in maple syrup production in Estrie and in Québec (55%): 67% of taps/ 69% of the sales/ranks 2nd in Québec
- The Granit region ranks 3rd in Estrie (in terms of revenues) in the following segments: milk production, poultry, aquaculture
- 4.5% of Estrie’s offer in agrotourism (two agrotourism farms in 2012)
The most important types of productions in the Granit region (in terms of sales% and number of enterprises) are milk and maple syrup productions.
Types of productions – Granit Region – 2010
|Type of production||% sales/Granit Region||% of enterprises|
|Maple syrup production||40.1%||62.2%|
|Ornamental horticulture (inc. Christmas trees)||3.4%||2.6%|
In the “plant production” segment, the Granit region represents 62.3% of the sugar bushes in operation in the Estrie region (19,455 ha) and is 2nd in Québec following the Bas St-Laurent region. The cultivated areas (exception for natural grazing land and maple syrup enterprises) total 16,637 ha. This represents 6% of the Granit region’s territory. 65% of the cultivated areas are dedicated to forage and forage plants and they represent a large proportion of the farm fields (83%).
Over the last decade, the cultivated area has slightly decreased from 2,000 to 2010 (-5.3%). Maple syrup operations increased 31.8% in terms of the number of taps, while other types of crops have decreased a little.
Cereals and protein crops cultivated throughout the Granit region are mainly oats and barley and represent only 8.6% of the total production of cereals in the Estrie region. Corn and soy are not actively cultivated within the region because of the lack of warm temperatures.
Highlights – Granit region – 2010
- From 2004 to 2012, the number of enterprises increased by 71.4%, going from 14 to 24
- 277 jobs in the Granit region
- Farms: 58.3% of the processing is done in the Granit region
- 13% of the farms are certified organic
- 25.9% of the total maple syrup enterprises in Estrie (7 of 27)
- 12% of all agrofood enterprises in Estrie (7.5% of the population)
- Other sectors in expansion: confectionery, chocolate-making, pasta, flour, frozen food, herbology, cheese-making, cold and hot beverages.
Retail Stores, Wholesale and Restaurants
Highlights – Granit Region – 2010
- 4% of wholesalers in Estrie (milk products, fruits and vegetables)
- 50 retail stores (2013) – an increase of 11% from 2001 to 2013 (while Estrie is seeing a decrease of 12%)
- 9.3% of all retail stores in Estrie (7% of the regional population)
- Increase of 21% in grocery stores and butcher shops between 2001 and 2013
- 117 restaurants, increase of 4% since 2001 (drop of 22% in Estrie)
- 10% of restaurants in Estrie
*Source for this section : “Agriculture et agroalimentaire MRC du Granit 2010”, MAPAQ, Direction régionale de l’Estrie, Febuary 2014.
Major Economic Contribution: Maple Syrup Production
The Canadian maple syrup industry provides 80% of the worldwide pure maple syrup production and is the main producer of maple syrup and related products. When we think about typical and leading products from Canada, nothing compares to maple syrup, sweet and soft.
Maple syrup is appreciated as a food lining and is used in the processing of many desserts.
100% natural, it provides an excellent source of riboflavin and manganese; it also contains numerous antioxidants which, provides a competitive advantage over other artificial sweeteners.
Canada is home to five different maple species: sugar maple, black maple, red maple, silver maple and “Manitoba” maple. Sugar and black maple are, on the other hand, the only species that produce maple syrup because of their high-sugar content, around 2% or 3% respectively.
In order to obtain a maximum volume of sap from the trees, the temperatures must vary between night and day, going from below 0 C (freezing point) during the night to warmer temperatures during the day.
In 2013, Canada produced ten million gallons of maple syrup, an increase of 27% compared to 2013. Québec by itself produces 90.4% of all Canadian maple syrup. The maple syrup industry has seen an increase of 34% in the value of maple products which went from 304.5 million Canadian dollars in 2012 to 408 million dollars in 2013.
Canada is the major exporter of maple syrup in the world. In effect, the maple products exports reached 278 million Canadian dollars in 2013 of which 95.3% originated from Québec and 3.7% from New Brunswick. Other provinces represented only 1% of total exports.
In 2013, Canada exported 65% of its products to the U.S., 9% to Japan and 8% to Germany.
Source: Government of Canada – “Statistical Overview of the Canadian Maple Industry 2013”
Maple Products Marketing Board
The collective marketing process enabled the board to harmonize and control the quality of the maple syrup produced in bulk.
The marketing and sale of the sap and maple syrup of Québec are organized through a joint plan by the maple syrup producers in Québec, according to the “Loi sur la mise en marché” (Market placement Act). Only the production sold directly to the consumer by the producer is exempted from this plan and other bylaws.
All the maple syrup producers (bulk or barrels) have to market through of the Federation’s selling agency.
This syrup is systematically inspected and classified by an external firm in order to fix the price and, if need be, for appropriate conditioning.
Maple syrup producers who bottle their own syrup can have choose to sell throught any retailer (ex. convenience store, grocery store, etc.). On the other hand, they must declare all sales to the Federation.
In order to avoid surplus, the production capacity is adjusted to demand through a mechanism of production restriction (quota system).
All maple syrup producers, whether they sell in bulk or in small containers through a retailer, participate in the financing of the Federation’s interventions.
Maple Syrup Operation: Saint-Romain School
The Saint-Romain Development Committee’s mission is to ensure the development of its community by creating quality jobs and showcasing the resources within its territory.
In Québec, the maple forests are affected by numerous natural disasters: acid rain, caterpillar infestations, ice rain, climatic variations, etc. Maple forests are fragile ecosystems, which can also be affected by the maple syrup producers’ land management approach.
To resolve this problem, the Saint-Romain Development Committee is promoting sustainable maple syrup production in Estrie. In line with this objective, they have implemented a unique trade school; part of the Hauts-Cantons School Board, the Saint-Romain school is dedicated to operating a maple grove of 15,000 taps.
The maple syrup trade school’s activities are focused upon the production of organic maple syrup and technical/professional training in sustainable maple syrup production.
The school allows the students to apply theory to practice by using the learned skills in management and conditioning of maple syrup production, in a sector where you find 1/3 of Québec’s total taps.
This project is a positive contribution to different uses for our forest resources. It contributes to the training of agents who will transmit the information within their community. This will allow for a more responsible management of the maple groves, and ensure the sustainable development of the entire forest resource.
Major Maple Syrup Processors in the Region
|Citadelle||Plessisville - HQ|
La Guadeloupe - Plant
Saint-Quentin (NB) Les Produits Restigouche Inc
|Citadelle Website||Citadelle, CAMP, Shady Maple Farms, O’Canada, Maple Gold, Cleary’s and Les Délices de l’Érable||Proudly representing close to one-third of the maple syrup producers in Québec, Citadelle, a coop of maple syrup producers, processes and commercializes a great variety of maple products.|
|Les Industries Bernard et Fils||Saint-Victor de Beauce||Les Industries Bernard & Fils Website||Bernard, Old Fashioned Maple Crest||The Bernard family produces quality pure maple syrup since the 19
|Sirops Maple Grove||Saint-Evariste-De-Forsyth||Sirops Maple Grove Website||Maple Grove Farms||Maple Grove Farms is proud of being the largest packager of pure maple syrup in the U.S., the largest maple candy producer in the world|
|Érablière Ca-Sé-Al||Milan||Érablière Ca-Sé-AL Website||Ca-Sé-Al||The Ca-Sé-Al products are certified organic (ECOCERT CANADA). Their products are tasty, easy to use et nicely packaged. The ingredients used are certified organic. Whenever possible, Ca-Sé-Al uses local ingredients. Their products are now available in many specialized grocery stores and local markets in the Mégantic region and Sherbrooke (Oliva).|
|L'Érable à son Meilleur||Lac Drolet||Le Frasyl, Le Tradition, Le Perlé, La Coulée Douce…||In addition to many sweet products, L’Érable à son Meilleur offers no less than five alcoholic beverages produced with maple syrup. New in 2014: a Maple Showcase Center|
Québec Milk Production – Profile
The Québec milk production is very important to the economy of the Québec regions. Some 12 000 milk producers commercialize each year around three billion liters of milk for a value at the farm of more than two billion dollars, or 32% of the entire agriculture revenues in Québec.
Year in and year out, milk producers in Québec invest more than 400 million dollars in order to maintain and improve their installations.
In 2009, milk farms in Québec provided jobs to 81,279 people (direct, indirect and related) for the entire sector. The farms contributed $5.1 B to Canadian GDP. Milk production in 2009 generated fiscal revenues of $1.2B to the different levels of governments, of which $635 M went to the federal government, $425 M to the Québec government and $115 M to the municipalities.
In Canada, 37% of milk production revenues come from Québec; it is Canada’s principal production location. Québec ranks first in terms of volume produced, and the number of farms engaged in this type of production. Milk production ranks third amongst the Canadian agriculture activities, with 12.5% of the total $41 B in agriculture revenues in Canada.
Climate, rain and soil have always given Québec an advantage in terms of forage production and grassland. This abundant supply of quality forage was and is still a major asset in the province for milk production.
Size and number of farms
The typical milk production farm possesses 60 cows and delivers close to 500,000 liters of milk per year. In Canada, the average herd is 74 cows. There are 6,000 milk production farms within the Québec territory and there are 13,000 across Canada.
In many types of production and in many regions around the world, the trend is a diminishing number of farms. Québec follows the same trend, but comes second British Columbia for the lowest reduction. The pace of rationalization observed in Québec is typically equal or dlightly slower compared with other countries where milk production is as important.
The typical profile of Canadian farms is closer to those Europe and in the northeastern United States, than to the farms based in Western U.S. and Oceania. For example, if we take the typical herd size in Western U.S. (1,000 cows), Canada would only count 900 farms and in Québec, only 350 instead of the 6,300 it has today to produce the same volume of milk.
Source : Les producteurs de lait du Québec
Statistics – Dairy Production – Estrie and province of Québec – 2008-2012
|Net average price||$/hl||68.72||69.97||70.54||72.97||72.27|
|Province of Québec|
|Net average price||$/hl||69.93||70.91||71.65||74.32||73.55|
Source : Institut de la statistique du Québec
Major Dairy Processors in the Region
|Fromagerie La Chaudière||Lac-Mégantic||Fromagerie La Chaudière Website||La Chaudière||The La Chaudière cheeses are distributed in 3,000 grocery stores, large and small outlets.
Since 1976, the Choquette family has created numerous cheeses that carry their signature and local flavors. The cheeses are produced in Lac-Mégantic in a large plant with-state-of-the-art equipment. Fromagerie La Chaudière also offers a variety of organic cheeses.
|Agropur||Granby||Agropur Website||Natrel, Québon, Sealtest, Schroeder, Agropur Signature, Island Farms, Allégro, IÖGO, Oka and many others||Agropur is a coop owned by 3,449 milk producers, working together to enhance results through their collaborative efforts.
More than 3.4 billion liters of milk are processed annually in their 36 plants across North America.
With revenues of more than 3.8 billion dollars, Agropur is the main buyer of milk in the region.
|Chèvrerie Fruit d'une Passion||Saint-Ludger, Beauce||Chèvrerie Fruit d’une Passion Website||Parle-moi z'en|
Tomme des joyeux fromagers
|La Tomme des Joyeux Fromagers is a raw milk goat cheese, which is made exclusively from the milk produced by their own herd. The cheese has a firm paste, and its washed rind offers a very typical taste echoing the farm’s environment.|
Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre
Sherbrooke (Lennoxville sector), Québec
The Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre (DSRDC) is part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) national network of 19 research centres. The DSRDC was established in 1914 in Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec. The centre is the only AAFC research centre specialized in innovative research primarily for the Canadian dairy and swine industries
The center leads research in three key areasCenter :
- Environment sustainability
- Dairy and swine production systems
- Dairy and swine health and welfare
Areas of Research
Research teams at the Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre cooperate with industry partners to conduct research on optimizing dairy and swine production, while promoting animal welfare and protecting the environment.
The Centre’s areas of core research are aligned with national priorities to help the sector adapt and remain competitive in domestic and global markets. Greater participation in research networks and industry-led partnerships expands the Centre’s innovation capacity.
- Improving nutrition efficiency while minimizing the negative environmental effects of dairy and swine production
- Improving swine welfare
- Investigating ways to reduce the greenhouse gas contribution associated with livestock production
- Studying the biology of lactation in both dairy and swine
- Investigating ways to minimize stress and optimize the immune system of dairy cows and swine
- Investigating the use of biological products and processes for treating farm
Facts, Figures and Facilities
- Located in Lennoxville, a borough of the City of Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec
- Modern laboratories (5,820 square metres) and animal facilities for dairy cattle and swine, sows and their breeding, growing and finishing
- Specialized facilities for:
- Cell culture
- Molecular biology and genetic engineering
- Meat quality evaluation
- Metabolic cages and equipment for individual feed intake evaluation
- Environmental laboratories
- An olfactometry laboratory
Source : Agriculture et Agri-Food Canada
Profile for a few of Our Agro-Industry Leaders
Fromagerie la Chaudière
Fromagerie La Chaudière – Built to Last!
Cheese producer “Fromagerie La Chaudière” was founded in 1976. In its early beginnings, Vianney Choquette, founder, was renowned throughout the region for the great taste and high quality of his fresh cheese.
The legacy of its founder can be summarized in three words: quality, responsibility and innovation.
A few decades further, the Choquette family is still at the helm, and their 125 employees now prepare more than a dozen different types of cheeses, of which many are produced with organic milk supplied by local farms.
Our Organi Cheeses are certified “Québec Authentic”
In 1995, when the organic products were not even part of our vocabulary, Vianney Choquette was one of the first to invest time and money to produce cheese made from organic milk supplied by the farms of the region. Since then, all its organic cheeses produced are tagged with the “Québec Vrai” logo.
Clients have access to products that are manufactured without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, additives or antibiotics, thereby making sure of both the animals’ welfare and the protection of the environment.
In everyday life, this means offering quality products that are healthy, selecting processes that are not harmful for the environment and that promote sustainable development. This also means jobs for people from our community, planning succession for our workforce, and marketing our products across the country.
Source : Fromagerie La Chaudière
Fromagerie La Chaudière inc.
3226, Laval Street
Canada, G6B 1A4
Phone: 819 583-4664
Toll free : 1 800 667-4330
Website: Fromagerie La Chaudière
Organic flour made from organic grains
Celebrating its 30 years in business in 2012, Meunerie Milanaise’s mission is to continue to growth while respecting its founding principles. Its expertise and values, solidly anchored in the company’s philosophy, are key to their recipe for success: high-quality products, constant innovation, and attention to the needs of their clients.
The Meunerie Milanaise was founded on a farm owned by Lily Vallières and Robert Beauchemin, located in the picturesque village of Milan, in the Estrie region.
Their relentless desire to offer high-quality products and their precious expertise in the art of stone-milling enabled them to gain a competitive edge over their Québec competitors.
Only two years after their opening, production capacity had become insufficient to meet the market’s growing demand for organic flour. Meunerie Milanaise had to rapidly seek new suppliers. This quest for high-quality grain had the advantage of building a productive network with other organic producers from Québec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and the U.S. These relationships, combined with the explosive growth of micro-bakeries in Québec and the increasing demand for organic products with the large-scale markets for natural and gourmet foods, have contributed to the renewed interest in their products. In 1997, the new plant, able to accommodate the entire production activities and to support the growth of the company, was relocated in the heart of the village of Milan.
Today, leader of the stone-milling industry in Canada, Meunerie Milanaise sources over 60% of its grains from Québec producers. The company plans to continue to increase its use of Québec-grown grains in order to encourage the province’s wheat culture and protection of the environment. With the clients always at the heart of its mission, the company has put in place management best practices throughout its daily operations in order to improve the quality of life.
Source : Meunerie Milanaise
Meunerie Milanaise Inc. – Pioneer of the organic industry in Québec – La Milanaise is passionate – naturally
“We are in a market that is growing constantly – as a matter of fact, we have recently invested $3M to double our production capacity. People know us from our presence in the grocery stores, but this is, in fact, a lesser part of our market – only 20% – the rest is concentrated with the bakeries and for industrial production. Since the company’s beginnings, quality has been at the heart of our development: we hire our own agronomists who work directly in the field with the farmers, to produce the best grain and ensure application of our standards for organic quality. Our workforce is very loyal; they don’t leave to go next door, and this is a great advantage. Nevertheless, we go further by automatizing a lot. Meunerie La Milanaise has many projects on the table – even one for a new bakery school!”
Steve Castegan – General Manager – La Meunerie Milanaise Inc.
Organic Pasta Producer
In November 2008, partners in life Marie-Hélène Gagné and Éric Daigneault acquired from Meunerie Milanaise the Alegria brand and equipment to produce organic pasta.
Member of Aliments du Québec, a group of producers, their company is doing business under the name Produits Alegria, with one full-time employee and two part-time employees. Marie-Hélène oversees the administration and Éric takes care of sales and prospection of new clients.
“We have renewed the image and brand of the company to take new market shares. A new logo, new packaging and new formats in order to better respond to our clients ‘needs and to stay competitive”.
The couple has a daughter, Noémie, who loves to meet clients in public markets and talk about her delightful pasta which people can taste on site.
Produced with organic flour from Meunerie Milanaise and certified organic by Écocert Canada, the Alegria pasta has a high fiber content and a better nutritional quality. They cook in about five minutes, much faster than other types of commercial pasta.
Certified Organic Enterprise