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Food from Quebec takes center stage at Food Emporium in Manhattan

by Joel Gebet | June 03, 2009
NEW YORK -- Food, including produce, from the province of Quebec took center stage at a private event held May 28, here, at Food Emporium's BridgeMarket on Manhattan's East Side, which kicked off the retailer's "Taste of Quebec" promotion.

While Quebec is known for its French and European heritage, research by the provincial government's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food discovered that shoppers in the United States had little knowledge of the quality and variety of food products that are available from the province.

The ministry recently developed a marketing campaign called the "Taste of Quebec" to bring greater awareness to shoppers about the offerings that are available to them just north of the border, and collaborated with Food Emporium, a division of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc., on its first in-store promotional campaign, the "Taste of Quebec" promotion, which is scheduled to run through June 11 at 16 of the retailer's stores located in New York City.

The event at the retailer's BridgeMarket, located at the base of New York's historic Queensboro Bridge (which incidentally celebrated its 100th anniversary May 31) showcased products from 26 Quebec food vendors to Food Emporium's staffers and invited guests. Two produce firms, Les Serres du St.-Laurent and HydroSerre Mirabel Inc., were among the vendors.

Les Serres du St.-Laurent, which is referred to by its label "Savoura" and is well known in Quebec for its premium greenhouse-grown tomatoes, introduced its products to the U.S. market for the first time at the May 28 showcase.

"The event was very successful," Robert Boudreau, who handles business development for Les Serres du St.-Laurent, told The Produce News. "We met with store managers, and our product has been well accepted. It's important for Savoura to be in Food Emporium as our point of entry into the U.S. It's a very good fit with our quality products."

Mr. Boudreau said that four of the Portneuf, QC-based firm's products - cherry tomatoes on-the-vine; cocktail tomatoes on-the-vine; its 2.8-ounce lunch-size package, which has about four cherry tomatoes and is designed for lunchboxes or snacks; and its bruschetta kit, which has four tomatoes and a seasoning mix with a recipe - will initially be available, and there were plans "to expand later in the year."

While HydroSerre Mirabel's live hydroponic Boston lettuce, grown using floating-raft technology, is already widely distributed in the eastern United States, the event marked the first time that it was available at Food Emporium.

"This is a terrific opportunity to have visibility for our product in New York City, and the image of our product fits well with Food Emporium," Pierre Dolbec, HydroSerre Mirabel's vice president of sales and marketing, told The Produce News. "The Quebec government did a lot of leg work to make this event happen, and hopefully we'll get a good foothold."

Mr. Dolbec noted that the Mirabel, QC-based firm plans to release two or three new varieties later this summer, and having its product available at the retailer "works well with our development plan. We hope to integrate new products at Food Emporium."

"Food Emporium is very excited to bring the delectable 'Tastes of Quebec' to our valued customers," Hans Heer, senior vice president and general manager of Food Emporium, told The Produce News in an e-mail. "From juicy 'Savoura' tomatoes to organic dried cranberries and 'Mirabel' Boston lettuce, the palates of the culture are unparalleled. And now New Yorkers get to try these delicacies right in their own homes."