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Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions

Discovering the unique flavour of Québec City’s food and nutrition industry

The Québec City region’s cuisine is renowned the world over. Even Québec City itself is considered by many as a foodie capital of the world. But did you also know that its fare is backed by its cutting-edge food and nutrition industry? This industry not only significantly contributes to the region’s economic growth but also pushes the innovation envelope worldwide in several sectors, including research, food processing, and the development of health foods and nutrition?

An industry teeming with potential

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“Québec City and the surrounding region is brimming with potential in the food and nutrition industry,” said Ms. Sandra Hardy, the Business Development Director of the Health Food and Nutrition Industry at Québec International, a leading economic development agency that contributes to Québec City’s economic development and international recognition. “Without a doubt, local industry actors in the agri-food business have achieved unprecedented success in national and international markets.”

The numbers are definitely impressive. The Québec region is home to 160 businesses in the food and nutrition industry, which have created over 6,500 jobs and generate $1.33 billion in revenues.

An ecosystem that drives innovation

“There are several reasons for such a burgeoning industry,” explained Ms. Hardy. “For one, the region has created an ecosystem centered on food innovation, which brings together Québec’s 10 research chairs, trusts, institutes and chairs as well as educational institutions.” These include the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods, which analyzes products and looks for way to make them healthier, the incubator-accelerator AG-Bio Centre, Université Laval’s Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Cégep de Limoilou’s technical training in dietary sciences and several culinary schools, such as the École hôtelière de la Capitale, École hôtelière Fierbourg and Merici College.

“This ecosystem helps to innovate the nutritional quality of Québec’s regional food products for export as well as train exceptionally qualified personnel for the area’s businesses,” Ms. Hardy said.

“Furthermore, the Health Food sector of excellence fosters collaboration and the development of initiatives that help the industry grow. Innovative projects enable businesses, chefs and consumer groups to work side by side to stimulate innovation as well as co-create new products and commercialize new products. The goal is to incite local citizens, tourists and international businesses discover the region’s unique products. These direct partnerships have been transformative for the industry on an international scale.”

A kaleidoscope of food products

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Québec City’s agri-food sector is also very successfully thanks to the sheer variety of businesses and food products. “Contrary to some areas in the world that specialize in one specific branch of food—say, chocolate or cheese—Québec City provides a smorgasbord of award-winning foodstuffs and terroir products.” Think: organic cookies, bars and beverages, natural and organic meats, hormone-free game meats, fair-trade and organic chocolate, light and specialty cheeses, organic oils and condiments, berry-based products, micro-breweries…the list goes on and on.

“It’s important to note that these businesses have truly specialized in and developed their crafts,” Ms. Hardy added. “For some of them, the most important aspect of their work is to create delightful, delicious and nourishing food rather than mass production.”

A testament of Québec City’s commitment to artisanal mindset? Several of companies are part of the international Économusée network, a non-profit organization that helps to showcase the know-how and expertise of artisans in the agri-food sector.

Support from a wide range of organizations

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Other initiatives that also contribute to the industry’s growth include support from government ministries as well as regional, provincial and national sectoral organizations located in the Québec City area, such as Capital Financière agricole, Farm Credit Canada and Fondaction's Nutressor program, which was specifically developed for businesses in the Health Food sector of excellence. Together, these organizations help to ensure that local businesses get the funding and expertise required to take their R&D and market development to the next level.

Québec City has also participated in economic missions to New York and California to drum up export deals and identify upcoming food trends. And thanks to the Canada-European (EU) Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement  coming into effect in September 2017, Québec City companies in the food and nutrition industry will now how easier access to market their products to the EU’s over 510 million consumers. “Promoting our innovation and expertise internationally is key to distinguishing our products in highly competitive markets,” said Ms. Hardy.

BÉNÉFIQ 2018: A major international event

As part of Québec City’s growing food sector, the city will play host to BÉNÉFIQ 2018, an international convention on health food and ingredients that will bring together hundreds of scientists, manufacturers and industry professionals from the health ingredients, nutritional supplements, cosmeceutical, pharmaceutical and nutrition sectors. Held at the Québec City Convention Centre from October 2 to 4, 2018, this unique event, which meshes scientific bodies and the business world, exemplifies Québec City’s value in the worldwide food and nutrition industry.

“The Québec City region’s entrepreneurial mindset and commitment to healthy food is truly second to none,” Ms. Hardy included. “The future is definitely bright for this thriving industry.”

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