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Quebec apple juicer picks up expansion funding

The makers of Tradition brand fruit juices in Quebec’s Monteregie have picked up a federal loan toward major expansion that’s expected to boost both its apple capacity and the volume of juice per apple.

Vergers Paul Jodoin, based south of St-Jean-Baptiste, about 40 km east of Montreal, will get a repayable contribution worth over $1.37 million from the government’s AgriProcessing Initiative toward its new production equipment.

“By increasing our production capacity and introducing high-tech equipment, we will be able to meet increased demand for Tradition juices, on which we have built our reputation,” Sylvain Jodoin, one of three brothers who took over their father’s firm in 1987, said in the government’s release Thursday.

The government’s release didn’t specify the size or scale of the expansion, but the Quebec farm journal La terre de chez nous quoted Sylvain Jodoin on Thursday as saying the project is worth a total of $5 million.

The company’s new processing equipment will be able to handle 7.2 million apples, up from 6.2 million, and boost the percentage of juice per apple to 95 per cent, up from 75 per cent, La terre said.

A drying system will now be used to process the remaining five per cent pulp, which according to the newspaper is currently shipped for livestock feed. Another use may be developed for the pulp as a fibre-rich food ingredient, La terre said.

The Jodoin brothers, whose father set up his first orchard in 1961, now operate about 300 acres of orchards and employ about 60 people full-time, as well as “hundreds” more to handle the fruit harvest in September.

Quebec MP Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the federal minister of state for agriculture, said in Thursday’s release that the funding for the Jodoin project specifically will boost Canada’s yearly demand for apples, while the general program goes to help processors “remain competitive in markets.”

The five-year, $50 million AgriProcessing Initiative, which helps processors finance new (or new-to-company) technologies and equipment, flows from the government’s five-year (2009-14), $500 million Agricultural Flexibility Fund.

Projects involving AgriProcessing funds have to be completed by the end of March 2014.

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