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Sales sizzling for new veal bacon

Vivo brand to release veal ham and smoked meats over next few months

The first 5,000 cases of Écolait's new veal bacon have flew off shelves after going on sale at Metro and IGA/Sobeys stores across Quebec in late Nov.

And Mario Maillet couldn't be happier.

"Demand is unbelievable," said the president of the St. Hyacynthe-based company, the largest milk veal producer and processer in North America.

"It's a great market entry for our new line of products."

Bacon is just the first of several new veal cuts that Écolait continues to develop under its Vivo brand.

Veal ham is ready to hit store shelves in early Feb., followed by smoked meat and a variety of specialty fresh cuts in the weeks ahead.

READ: Quebec veal producer revives brand

According to Maillet, the new line is part of a two-pronged business strategy aimed at both diversifying Écolait's retail offerings and beefing up its presence in the grain-fed veal market.

"Veal is at a crossroads like pork was a decade ago," said Maillet, a pork industry expert and former deputy minister of agriculture in New Brunswick who was hired by Écolait 13 months ago.

"Fresh veal is being sold at below production cost.  So we need to more imaginative in the marketplace."

To do that, Écolait started working a year ago with a deli meat partner in an effort to better exploit veal carcasses similar to pigs.

"The two carcasses are about the same size (and) the fresh cuts are similar," Maillet told Canadian Grocer.

The brisk sales of veal bacon, he added, are a reward for those R&D efforts.

"It's very encouraging," said Maillet, who was also in the news earlier this month when Écolait announced it had bought - and will revive - the Veau de Charlevoix brand, which will increase the company's presence in the grain-fed veal market.

"I think we're on the right track."

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