Sobeys Quebec hooks up with food entrepreneurs to launch sausage line

Five flavours of artisanal sausage from Montreal-based Charcutiers Pork Shop

Sobeys Quebec is banking on brat from two hipster food entrepreneurs to bolster its bite on the growing dried meat market in la belle province.

Last week, the food retailer launched five original flavours of artisanal sausages from Charcutiers Pork Shop at all 282 IGA and IGA Extra stores across Quebec.

The gluten-free products were developed under an exclusive agreement between Sobeys Quebec and the small Montreal-based company, which was founded two years ago by 20-somethings sausage and deli meat impresarios Tommy Gosselin and Frédéric Daoust.

"These products fit perfectly into our strategy (for the dried meat segment)," said Yvan Ouellet, Sobeys Quebec's vice president of purchasing and merchandising, perishables.

The new products' playful names and zesty flavours (like Leeroy, which is made with whiskey and Hickman County barbeque sauce, and Lawrence, which is billed as offering an "unorthodox twist" on Montreal steak spice), and use of local ingredients (particularly Quebec-raised pork) notably fit with the Joy of Eating Better movement that Sobeys began in May, 2014.

They also beef up Sobeys' deli offering, which is anchored by its 12-variety Le Sauciflard line of European-style dried pork sausages, which are exclusive to IGA stores.

Another bonus, added Ouellet, is working with the two young and eager entrepreneurs he met at an IGA launch of François Chartier wines 18 months ago.

"We were floored by these two young men who were invited there to offer tastings of their products," recalled Ouellet.  "It was love at first bite."

According to Daoust, he and Gosselin were then busy convincing store, bar and butcher shop owners to sell the dried sausages they made from original recipes, and to let them hold tastings.

"We were doing alright," said the 24-year-old Daoust, who is two years younger than his partner.

But business has boomed, he added, since they met Ouellet, who notably put them in touch with a commercial sausage maker in Montreal who can supply them with enough product to meet province-wide demand.

"That meeting changed our lives (and) our sales have increased tenfold," said Daoust.  "Talk about being in the right place at the right time."

Sold in vacuum-sealed, 130-gram packages with two sausages in each, the new product went on sale at IGA stores in late September with a retail price of $7.99.

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