Toundra cukes now year-round on Quebec shelves
By Dave Harrison
Dec. 12, 2016, Montreal – As of January 2017, Quebecers will find local Quebec cucumbers on the shelves of 420 IGA, Les Marchés Tradition and Marché Bonichoix stores, every single month of the year. Distribution has already begun and will gradually spread across the province.
A year-round supply of local cucumbers has gone from dream to reality thanks to an ambitious agreement with the start-up Toundra Greenhouse.
BY THE NUMBERS
• 2014: The year that Sobeys Québec signed an exclusivity agreement with the innovative Lac-Saint-Jean firm Toundra Greenhouse, while the venture was still getting off the ground.
• 420: The number of points of sale in Quebec where customers will find the cucumbers, namely in the three major Sobeys Québec banners: IGA, Les Marchés Tradition and Marché Bonichoix.
• 365: Quebec cucumbers will be available every single day of the year!
• 1st: The first official delivery was made on November 29, 2016, to the local IGA store in Saint-Félicien, much to the delight of its owner, Marc Desbiens.
• More than 100: The number of jobs created in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean thanks to this initiative, without counting the spin-offs, estimated to be worth several million dollars.
TWO VARIETIES OF CUCUMBERS
Proudly grown by high-tech business Toundra Greenhouse, located in St-Félicien (Lac-Saint-Jean). Two varieties are produced:
• English cucumber: This long, thick variety is tender with imperceptible seeds. Perfect for gazpacho!
• Lebanese cucumber: A small, very crunchy variety that is perfect with dip for an appetizer.
THE JOY OF EATING BETTER
In addition to promoting local entrepreneurs and products, this project has a positive environmental impact. The cucumbers will travel fewer kilometres from greenhouse to consumers’ plates compared to imported cucumbers.
And since it encourages Quebecers to buy responsibly, eat healthier food and cook more often, this agreement with Toundra Greenhouse perfectly aligns with the Joy of Eating Better movement that is part of every aspect of Sobeys Québec.
“We’re proud to have trusted, encouraged and accompanied this local start-up by deciding two and a half years ago to purchase all the cucumbers we need to supply our extensive network,” said Yvan Ouellet, vice-president of merchandising and perishables.
“Everyone reaps the rewards of this agreement, because we’re offering Quebecers a local product available throughout the year, and because Toundra Greenhouse is definitely up and running!”
Sobeys Québec is a subsidiary of Sobeys Inc., wholly owned by Empire Company Limited. The Sobeys Québec head office is located in Montreal-North. It operates various food banners including IGA, Les Marchés Tradition, Marché Bonichoix, Rachelle-Béry health food stores, IGA express, and several convenience stores.
The result of a partnership between Resolute Forest Products and local investors, Toundra Greenhouse is a 35-hectare greenhouse complex located in the Saint-Félicien Éco-parc, and will be the largest cucumber grower in Quebec upon its completion. Evaluated to be worth $100 million, the complex will produce vegetables every month of the year and create 400 jobs in the Lac-Saint-Jean region by 2019.