Quebec veal producer bringing new products to market
From the Montreal Gazette
Pork expert Mario Maillet says pigs are roughly the same size as young calves. So when he took over last year as president of Écolait, Quebec’s largest veal producer, he spearheaded efforts aimed at exploiting calf carcasses more like pigs. The result is Vivo, the company’s new and fast-expanding brand of novel veal cuts and innovative food products.
The first product — veal bacon — was launched in Métro and IGA stores across Quebec in early December. A second product — Black Forest veal ham — is set to hit grocery store shelves later this month. Several more pork-like veal products — all of them low sodium, gluten free and halal quality — are in the works.
According to Maillet, sales of veal bacon are sizzling. That has led to a doubling of production from 500 to 1,000 cases a week. That could triple once the new product begins rolling out in food stores across Ontario and Western Canada later this month.
Écolait also operates a slaughterhouse and processing plant in Terrebonne, a cutting plant in upstate New York, and is strategically allied with Ontario’s Delft Blue Food Innovations. Both Écolait and Delft Blue are part of the Grober Group. Headquartered in Cambridge, Ont., Grober is the largest integrated milk-fed veal business in North America with several divisions that do everything from the manufacture of milk replacer to the raising, processing and marketing of up to 150,000 veal calves a year in Canada and the United States. Écolait slaughters 1,700 mostly bull calves a week at its facilities, about 1,200 of them from Quebec farms.
According to statistics from both the federal government and the veal industry in Ontario and Quebec, which together represent 95 per cent of Canada’s veal market, Quebec accounts for 80 per cent of total national veal production.