So far queen of the tablets when the season ends in the Belle Province, raspberries from California will have Quebec company in the spring and late fall thanks to an innovation of horticultural products Demers, who dreams of a production year round.
The family business, which has been growing red berries for three generations, has taken five years to develop a raspberry produced in a greenhouse that would be worthy of the taste buds of consumers. Bigger and sweeter, says one at Demers. The little fruit will arrive in the Metro, IGA and Provigo grocery stores in the province next week.
The company in the Saint-Nicolas sector, in Levis, “foils nature” on a surface of 4000 square meters, the equivalent of “a football field”, explains the Sun CEO Jacques Demers. “We do not do that in the corner of the greenhouse!”
The fact remains that the production capacity does not approach, in comparison, the 30 acres of greenhouses devoted to greenhouse tomatoes at Demers. “It’s not insignificant, but it’s limited [as production]. It’s just perfect to attack the market to some degree. We have enough volume to grab the attention [of the big food chains]. “The company even expects the kiosks to be” regularly out of stock “.
Horticultural products Demers already produced raspberries from mid-July to November, thanks to a system of cultivation in fields under climate protection (fine tunnel greenhouse which covers the fields). With the new indoor greenhouse concept, a first production will be available from April to June. Outdoor plants will take over for the summer and a second greenhouse production will arrive from October to December.
Quebec raspberries will be available in grocery stores at least eight months a year. Ultimately, and if consumers are at the rendezvous, “we are aiming for a 12-month cycle,” says
So far, the majority of raspberries sold in grocery stores, out of season, come “from California, Mexico, Guatemala and Chile”. According to Mr. Demers, the product developed in the Quebec City region is much more interesting to taste and does not have to travel thousands of kilometers before arriving on the counters. An argument both marketing and ecological.
A lot of work
Some lucky people were able to taste the product in April 2017, directly at the counter of the Demers greenhouses, on the Vire-Crêpes road. “We did a little bit. It allowed us to test the market a bit and to get consumer feedback, “says the boss of the company.
While greenhouse raspberry has taken a long time to develop – “we are the ones who make our plans” – its culture is also a long-term affair. Raspberries currently used for production were started a year ago.
The specialists at Demers first grew the raspberry cane in the spring, and then spent the first full season outdoors. “They were subjected to cool temperatures” until the natural dormancy (for winter) plans. Then at the appropriate time, they are placed in a cold room. “They are then removed to bring them to a production area like the greenhouse [which reproduces the summer conditions]. This is where we outsmart nature, “says Jacques Demers.
The retail price of 120g brackets should be around $ 3.99. Demers has no plans for expansion yet. Everything will depend on the request. “We will see for future projects. Of course, if the result is positive we will continue and we will take the market. There is a lot of room. ”