Thursday, May 30, 2024

Getting out of Quebec is another real challenge

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

The comment sparked my curiosity. A food entrepreneur says the main barrier to marketing outside of Quebec is not federal, but regional. why then?

Alexandre Therrien runs the Canabec Company, which was founded by his father in 1987. To further grow, the meat and game distributor had to cross the border. This is a huge challenge for a food company. It took four years of effort to comply with the quality requirements of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Control of critical points, cooking, cooling and defrosting is very strict. On each batch, it is essential to be able to demonstrate duration and temperatures. A company that markets 800 products is now subject to daily inspection by the agency.


So why does Alexander feel the barrier is territorial if the high demands are coming from Canada?

“The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is not setting a high bar and that means we have to do many, many things if we want to expand and that disheartens the world, notes the entrepreneur. MAPAQ can better prepare us to take this step,” he adds, explaining that He receives only one inspection visit per year from MAPAQ.

“There were times when I questioned myself. Would it have been better for me to stay in the county?” Alexander asked.

He changed Quality Manager and Consultants three times to get there. When he found Hervé Dubé, he was finally the right man for the job. Canabec just invested $7.5 million in a plant, so there was a commitment to the result. You don’t necessarily think about it, but compliance with national requirements is also a technology project, because you have to achieve traceability of each batch of products and see your inventory in real time, while it is constantly on the move.

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It was also necessary to renew a good part of the management team to search for new skills and mobilize employees towards changing all work habits.

Add to that the fact that the deployment of this major project took place in the midst of a pandemic, in a company with a lot of catering clients. Twenty jobs had to be laid off at the beginning of the crisis. Now, bird flu makes it difficult to supply ducks, which are a big seller in Canabec. consequences ? Canabec has managed the growth challenge while its revenue has declined.

“But I couldn’t go back. We had to keep believing! IGA asked us to be in warehouses across Canada to improve our distribution. When a big customer pulls you in, you move!” says the entrepreneur.

With an expected growth of 10% annually, it is now necessary to hire 11 foreign workers.

seeing his father

Pride resides in the team now that they have passed the Canadian Agency test. Alexander was also admired by his father.

“That was his vision of the company. I had to realize that. I didn’t want to disappoint him.”


Founding year

Main office location

  • San Agustin de Desmores

Activity area

Number of employees

Profile of Alexandre Terrain

profession : President General Manager

age: 45 years

education: Sales and marketing

Laval University, Bose School of Entrepreneurship

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