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By the grace of gouda: Quebec cheese maker fights international competition

La Fromagerie du Presbytére plans to rapidly expand presence in Canada and the U.S.

Just because he owns the Catholic church in a small Quebec village doesn't mean Jean Morin (pictured) can't fight back when earthly matters like international trade deals are a potential threat to his livelihood. "We're already facing competition from imported European cheeses," said Morin, co-owner with his brother Dominic of La Fromagerie du Presbytére. The pair make cheese in the presbytery of the church. "Now it looks like we may have to contend with cheeses from the United States and Pacific Rim countries, if the (PPC trade deal) goes through." Earlier this week, Morin announced his company's intention rapidly expand its presence in Canadian markets, while developing foreign relationships. "We are going to target Ontario and Western Canada, particularly Vancouver," Morin told Canadian Grocer from his business in Saint-Élizabeth-de-Warwick in the Centre du Québec region. Founded in 2007, the company produces some 60,000 tons of award-winning artisanal cheeses from milk supplied by the Morin's dairy farm, which is across the street from the presbytery plant. Its half-dozen cheeses are mostly sold in grocery and specialty food stores across Quebec. Morin said the company is dealing directly with a new distributor in Toronto and plans to do more tastings across Canada. It also plans to aggressively market its products in the United States, beginning with Boston and New York City, and to boost production to meet the hoped-for increase in demand. "We want to get established in these markets before the Europeans and others arrive," he said. "Our products are recognized and appreciated for their distinctiveness and quality.  So I'm convinced that we can compete with the competitors that we believe our coming.” "We don't have any time to lose."

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