Food Industry: When appetites are strong, sales are strong!
Feb 08, 2019


What’s new on Quebec tables?

Influenced by major international trends, Quebecers’ eating habits are changing!

- New proteins: Whether meat alternatives, legumes or tempeh, proteins are being reinvented and are growing in popularity.

- Floral fragrances: Quebecers are adding lavender, hibiscus, rose and elderberry to their dishes.

- Cannabis-based foods: Whether it’s beer, cookies or candies, Canadian companies see cannabis legalization as an opportunity to launch new products.

- Spritz: Thanks to a carefully developed global strategy, the Campari Group has made this traditional Italian cocktail popular across the planet.

Lentils, corn, potatoes

In addition to these new products, vegetarianism is gaining in popularity throughout the country. With more than half of Canadians wanting to reduce their meat consumption, this once-marginal movement is growing. Whether for ethical, ecological, economical or health reasons, some 3.1 million Canadians consider themselves vegetarian or vegan.

It’s a movement that’s winning over young Quebec families!

More than half of Quebecers who identify as vegetarian or vegan are under 35 years old, which is a determining factor for the purchasing habits of today’s families, as well as tomorrow’s consumers who will have grown up in an environment free of meat or products of animal origin.


Fewer visits to grocery stores, and store diversification

Despite steady sales in the sector, we’ve seen an increase of 15% in food sales in big box stores, meaning that food sales are moving toward stores such as Costco, Walmart and even Dollarama. In 2007, groceries represented 85% of food sales, compared to 74% last year, a significant drop of 11% over a 10-year period. Seeing a good business opportunity, Shoppers Drug Mart introduced the Zone Marché at 11 Quebec stores. Already adopted by Canadians outside of Quebec, this new section offers 250 to 750 fresh-food items.

This increase in points of sale for food products largely explains the fact that visits to grocery stores are decreasing. Compared to 2012, this number decreased by 233 million in Canada last year.

But even if the amount of visits is decreasing, the total amount spent on food continues to rise, reaching nearly $12,000 per year for a family of 4. This growth of 7% is explained by an increase in the average cost of staple foods (vegetables +7% / fruits +3% / baked goods, fish, dairy and eggs, meat +2%). New trade agreements with the United States could also affect the price of various grocery products, such as canned foods. To offset these increases while continuing to buy their favourite products, Quebecers will turn to coupons (index 126 vs. ROC) and house brands (index 104 vs. ROC).


Groceries in just a few clicks

While visiting a store directly remains the most popular option in the country, more and more Canadians are shopping for groceries online—28% have already made food purchases online, and 18% do so every week. Experts predict that in 2025, 15% of grocery purchases will be made online. Whether it’s Metro with its superstores, IGA with its automated warehouses, or Provigo & Maxi with their Clic&Go option, grocery stores are diversifying their offers to counter big box stores that already have significant expertise with online sales.


Is it organic?

In Canada, the organic industry is worth $4 billion and grows by 10% every year. One in four Quebecers now buys organic food on a regular basis. The demand is growing, as is the offer! Today, nearly 11,000 certified organic products are found in Quebec stores, an increase of 174% vs. 2010.



Quebecers consumed 169 million litres of wine this year (+8.5% vs. 2017), which represents an expense of $3.25G (+4% vs. 2017). Red wine is by far the favourite, making up 62% of wine sales at the SAQ. Despite increased sales at the Crown corporation, the five most popular wines continue to be sold at grocery stores. As for products from Quebec, wine and spirits are gaining in popularity. Thanks mainly to Quebec gin, which stands out from its international competitors, local spirits generated $38M in sales, a growth of $4.5M vs. 2017. Quebec wines are also becoming more popular, reaching 585,101 bottles, an increase of more than 20,000 bottles vs. 2017.

As for beer, the amount of operating breweries reached a record high of 817 in 2017, a growth of 18% vs. 2016! More brewers are operating, but production and sales are relatively stable, with an increase of 0.3% and decrease of 1.1%, respectively, to reach 22.2 million hectolitres. Another emerging product on the market, alcohol-free beer is no longer just for pregnant women! This beer category is gaining popularity throughout the province and is now available from various microbreweries. The major breweries anticipate that by 2025, some 20% of sales will come from this specialized product range.

The food industry is continually reinventing itself. Whether due to international influences affecting what Quebecers put in their plates, technological advances that stimulate the industry to develop new processes, intergovernmental agreements that change laws and tariffs, or new health trends, the food sector has many challenges to overcome, and many opportunities to do so.

Source: Statistics Canada, Table CANSIM 080-0020, 2017, Province of Quebec.