A sweet opportunity

A sweet opportunity

Research partnership gives Canada’s largest apple producer a novel food product
March 25, 2014

Les Vergers Cataphard is the biggest producer and supplier of apples in Canada, providing more than 200,000 boxes a year made up of 12 different varieties of apples to big grocery store chains across Quebec such as IGA and Metro.

Every year, the family-run business located at Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Que., is left with 2 million to 3 million pounds — about 25 percent of the operation’s total yield — of apples that are unusable due to damage. So in 2010, it collaborated with Hassan Chadjaa, NSERC Industrial Research Chair at Collège Shawinigan, to turn its old pickings into a new, natural health food product.

Chadjaa, scientific coordinator of the college’s National Centre for Electrochemistry and Environmental Technologies, suggested they create syrup out of the leftover apples. Using an old formula from his previous research in industrial foods and with equipment funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Chadjaa developed a way to extract high concentrations of sugars from apples while maintaining a low glucose level — something very important for diabetics and health-conscious people.

The Cataphard family and Chadjaa patented this novel process in 2012 and Les Vergers Cataphard began selling it for $6.99 a bottle under the brand Les Produits Pierre-Henri. So far the company has sold close to 10,000 bottles and has employed two more people in a company of 20 employees. They are now looking for even bigger distributors such as COSTCO and are seeking partnerships with food and beverage companies to use their syrup as a sugar alternative for granola bars and natural energy drinks.