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Sobeys' Quebec IGA stores team up with Montreal chef

IGA stores will carry a line of high-end prepared foods by chef Jérôme Ferrer

Sobeys Quebec has teamed up with Montreal chef Jérôme Ferrer to distribute a line of his prepared foods that will be sold exclusively in all IGA stores in Quebec.

The line is still in development and details remain sketchy. It will be launched with two to four ready-to-eat meals either in late November or in January. Prices have not been established but will likely be higher than average for prepared foods, said Suzanne Gagnon, senior director of merchandising, fresh at Sobeys Quebec.

The ready-to-eat products will place a focus on quality and use Quebec-sourced ingredients that are free of additives and preservatives. “It’s prepared food, but high-end prepared food,” Gagnon said.

“We were on the same wavelength for developing quality products with local products,” Gagnon added. “We heard chef Ferrer mention that one day he’d like to offer his products on the retail level.”

The line will be made by Groupe Jérôme Ferrer, which is owned by Ferrer and his associates, at its new Centre de Transformation Agroalimentaire Tradition & Qualité in Montreal. Groupe Jérôme Ferrer also operates six restaurants in Montreal (including Europea, Birks Café and Brasserie Beaver Hall), a catering service and vineyard in France and co-owns four restaurants in Brazil.

Gagnon said the popular ready-to-eat sector is very dynamic and demands constant renewal. “He’ll bring freshness to this category.”

As a Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef, Ferrer is well-known in Quebec, she said.  “He’s very visible in the media. It’s a good fit.”

While Sobeys partnered in August to develop a healthy eating program and food line with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the IGA division of Sobeys Quebec is not taking part, Gagnon said. (Oliver has a Quebec presence through his partnership in Montreal restaurant Maison Publique, which opened last year to solid reviews.)

READ: Sobeys partners with Jamie Oliver

Sobeys Quebec spokesperson Laurie Fossat said the healthy eating concept is nothing new at IGA, which for years has promoted the importance of better food knowledge, use of quality ingredients and knowing how to cook.

Fossat also noted IGA has since last year been part of the Melior program which encourages food industry companies to voluntarily assist in improving Quebecers’ health by offering better food in stores. IGA became the first supermarket chain to join the program, she said.

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