Veal processor Ecolait to revive Charlevoix brand

Veau Charlevoix founder Jean-Robert Audet has agreed to work with Ecolait on relaunching and developing the Charlevoix veal brand. (CNW Group/Ecolait Ltd. photo)

Quebec veal producer and processor Ecolait has announced plans to pick up and redevelop a well known brand name in the sector.

St. Hyacinthe-based Ecolait, which markets veal under the Vivo brand, said Friday it’s bought the Le Veau Charlevoix brand, for an undisclosed sum, “in order to relaunch it.”

Le Veau Charlevoix, which began as founder Jean-Robert Audet’s veal cattle operation in the Charlevoix region in 1980, expanded into the slaughter and processing business in 1995 with a plant at Clermont, about 130 km northeast of Quebec City.

But the company shuttered its slaughter plant starting in September, citing a drop in consumer demand for veal as fallout from alleged mistreatment of livestock by certain producers in the veal business.

Le Veau Charlevoix, quoted in court documents in October, said it found the corresponding drop in retail veal prices “difficult to absorb.”

When the Clermont packing plant closed, the company said it planned to focus on seeking new investment and selling its inventory at retail.

But the company that month entered creditor protection, avoiding bankruptcy after its secured creditors accepted a proposal in which they’d get ownership of the Clermont abattoir’s building and equipment, while unsecured creditors would get the net proceeds from sales of remaining inventory.

The plant employees’ union in November said the Clermont plant’s owners hoped to line up new investors and relaunch operations as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for Ecolait said the deal announced Friday gives it the Charlevoix brand, the Charlevoix specification books and the company’s contracts with veal producers.

The provincially-certified Clermont plant “does not match” with Ecolait’s business model and its plan for the Charlevoix brand — a plan which in the short term involves increasing Charlevoix veal production tenfold, the spokesperson said.

Le Veau Charlevoix, on its website, said its products are produced mainly from Holstein cattle and occasionally from Limousin or Bleu Blanc Beige (BBB).

“New farms”

As for Audet, Ecolait said he has agreed to work with the company on the Veau Charlevoix brand’s redevelopment. Ecolait, in its release Friday, quoted him as saying the Charlevoix brand’s production has to be “thoroughly modernize(d)” for the brand to grow.

“Ecolait’s modern meat packing plant, its production plan certified by federal authorities and its strong distribution network will contribute to the maintenance and development of new family farms in all of Quebec’s regions,” Audet said in the release.

Charlevoix milk- and grain-fed veal, Ecolait said, is raised using production methods “designed specifically to meet consumer expectations.”

The Charlevoix products, the company said, “will soon be available again in grocery stores across Quebec,” noting the deal furthers Audet’s aim of developing and expanding the brand in all regions of the province.

“Le Veau Charlevoix is recognized as a symbol of quality not just in the Charlevoix region, but throughout the province of Quebec, and Ecolait will always be passionate about offering veal products of the highest quality,” Ecolait CEO Mario Maillet said in the same release. — AGCanada.com Network

 

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