Last Wednesday morning, Délices du Lac-Saint-Jean and Tournevent sent a first joint delivery of seven pallets to Lufa farms in Montreal, in order to cooperate in marketing products from the region.
"It's a very big contract for us," rejoices Émilie Gaudreault, one of the co-owners of the Albanel company. "This contract allowed me to keep 50% of my production team in place instead of closing down," adds the entrepreneur, who generally makes 65% of her turnover with tourism.
"They ordered the equivalent of the production that we did in a year for dehydrated blueberries and those coated with chocolate and even 1.5 times what we produced in a year for blueberry pastes", notes the entrepreneur.
In numbers, that represents 3,500 bags of dehydrated blueberries, 4,800 bags of chocolate-covered blueberries and 20,000 servings of blueberry pasta. “For a small business like ours, it makes a huge difference,” adds Émilie Gaudreault.
"We were three similar companies in terms of product proposals and they chose us because of our compostable packaging and our sustainable development policy," she adds. Only one supplier per product is retained on the company's online platform.
The same goes for the Tournevent farm in Hébertville, which has also succeeded in becoming one of the suppliers of Lufa farms. “They crowded out other suppliers to make way for our products because the values of our companies fit well together,” says Guillaume Dallaire, the farm’s director of operations. Tournevent will therefore offer its canola and camelina oils, as well as hulled hemp, golden flax, yellow peas and black and green lentils.
For the first order, three pallets of products have been shipped, but volumes are expected to increase over time. “We focus a lot on recurrence,” notes Audrey Bouchard, the general manager, who is delighted to have access to a vast network of clients who share the same values. “Their customers have the same ecological concerns that we have and they are customers who appreciate local products,” she says.
Overwhelmed with home orders during the COVID-19 lockdown, Lufa Farms Public Relations Coordinator Rosa Moliner confirms that the review process for new products offered on the Lufa Farms online sales platform he company attaches great importance to the sustainable development policy of companies and the packaging plays a big part in this. With compostable packaging, Délices du Lac-Saint-Jean and Tournevent have stood out from the competition. "Ideally, we prefer no packaging at all, but when that's not possible, the best alternative is compostable packaging," she says.
The Lufa farms portal is the largest online grocery store in Quebec, with more than 40,000 partners, 20,000 of whom receive weekly baskets in the greater Montreal area, but also in Outaouais, Mauricie and in the Quebec region.
Bouchard Artisan Bio, from Saint-Félicien, has been a supplier of Lufa farms since the very beginning of the online sales platform. "It's our biggest customer apart from the farm counter," notes Annie Bouchard, one of the company's co-owners. In addition, Lufa farms rely on short circuits, which reduce the number of intermediaries between the producer and the customer, which increases the profits for everyone in the value chain, she adds.
In these times of confinement, more and more people are looking for local products, creating a “beautiful” problem that is struggling to meet demand, notes Audrey Bouchard. “People are realizing the importance of encouraging local producers to promote food self-sufficiency,” she says.
Faced with a huge volume of demand and a shortage of manpower, Lufa farms have been forced to limit customers to just one basket of vegetables per week. New subscribers must also wait on a waiting list.
Quebec Wild Blueberries, La Normandinoise and Nutrinor are also suppliers to Lufa farms.