Letter to Aliments Québec

Dany Marquis

food prepared in Quebec

Here is a copy of the letter sent to Ms. Céline Beaulieu, coordinator, certification and compliance at Aliments Québec with whom I have been discussing the definition of chocolate products for over a year.

As mentioned in the text, the popularity of subcontracting, or the use of semi-processed products in the food industry makes the work of certifiers complex. Several manufacturers, for reasons of profitability, keep the origin of their ingredients hidden, while taking advantage of the local product label.

I also want to mention the goodwill of Aliments Québec in the face of my requests which come up against a broader situation which affects several areas at the same time.

It's quite a challenge to draw the line between definitions, especially when certain companies make millions of dollars by advertising themselves as Quebec products when in fact it's more or less true.

My goals are:

  • the promotion of the production of chocolate from cocoa;
  • the promotion of chocolatiers, chefs and artisans who choose locally made chocolates;
  • the promotion of manufacturing-type transformation for job creation here;
  • the valorization of the work of cocoa producers as a noble, tasting product, agricultural product and to move cocoa away from the commodity market;
  • increasing transparency on the real origin of chocolate and not just the origin of cocoa.

Here is the copy of the message sent to Aliments Québec:

Hello Celine,

As discussed, I am sending you more details on my request to add subcategories for chocolate for the “Food prepared in Quebec” certification.

And not Aliment du Québec.

And it's an interesting subject, which affects other business sectors. Besides, I came across this text from La Presse this morning for the gin industry. Only 1 gin in all of Quebec falls into the 100% Quebecois category. The others are assembled from ingredients, including the main base, coming from almost everywhere.

What is a Quebec spirit?

Their debate is different from my request, because for chocolate, I do not want my product to be labeled 100% Quebec, because that is clearly not the case.

As mentioned in the La Presse text with the quote from Nicolas Duvernois, it is really for a question of profitability that companies subcontract or source from outside.

There is therefore an impact on profitability and a monetary aspect to tightening the definitions, and I understand that it is delicate and that it requires a certain courage to say to entrepreneurs “No, your product is not Quebecois. ''

In the case of chocolate, it's a bit the same thing. It is more profitable, because less operation, machinery and personnel are required when the chocolatier buys his chocolate already ready. On the other hand, pushing this logic based solely on profit directs the industry to become a simple assembly line where the finality, bottling, melting of chocolate and molding becomes the sole expertise of the manufacturer. Then, marketing uses precise labels to convince consumers that the products are local, because they are assembled locally.

We then abandon manufacturing jobs, whether it is the manufacture of chocolate as we do, or the manufacture of neutral alcohol for others.

And I believe that the arguments in favor of retaining very broad definitions of categories favor the vagueness communicated to the consumer and allow companies to subcontract manufacturing as much as possible while maintaining the image of a local manufacturer.

I therefore reiterate my request to create different subcategories in the chocolate section.

This year, and more than ever, my company Chaleur B Chocolat plays a leading role in the reappropriation of chocolate manufacturing in Quebec. We are now several chocolate manufacturers who reaffirm Quebec's strength in the manufacturing of confectionery and chocolate products, starting from the cocoa bean instead of buying chocolate already manufactured. No more cocoa grows in Belgium than in Quebec, and yet the majority of chocolate consumed in Quebec comes from Europe.

This is a significant number of jobs that we are abandoning by working with an imported product that can be processed at home.

Chaleur B has proven that we can make chocolate that rivals the best manufacturers in the world by winning international recognition.

And I consider it necessary, for greater transparency for consumers, to create a distinction in the chocolate category.

Currently, in your classification system, there is no distinction between chocolates made from the cocoa bean and chocolates purchased in pastilles, melted, sometimes flavored and relabeled.

For example, a company that melts chocolate chips to put them in cans or to mold chocolate bars is in the same category as those that import the cocoa beans and actually make the chocolate. By placing the label on his product, the chocolatier, without identifying the origin and the name of the manufacturer of the chocolate, created, in my opinion, confusion among the consumer by putting the companies in the same category.

In the 27 pages of chocolate products on the Aliments Québec site, there is, to my knowledge, only Chaleur B Chocolat which is a manufacturer of chocolate from cocoa beans (NAICS 31132). The others are traditional chocolatiers who work with purchased chocolate (NAICS 31133).

According to the NAICS classification (Industry Classification System) there are mainly 2 different types of chocolate businesses, and this distinction is very important.


Manufacture of chocolate and confectionery from cocoa beans - 31132

Manufacture of confectionery from purchased chocolate - 31133

What is disturbing is that I know that the majority of chocolatiers buy chocolates made in Belgium, France, Germany. And if we can discuss the definition and the line to draw to define a product made in Quebec when there is a minimum of processing, I believe that we must create subcategories to identify their difference.

We even find on the Aliments Québec website bags of pastilles from Vahlrona (France) or Barry (Belgium or who knows), quite simply repackaged as is, and identified in the name of the chocolatier as a product of Quebec.

It's the raw product from the French chocolate manufacturer Vahlrona that they simply packaged as is, without any processing other than putting the pastilles in a bag...

You will understand that buying chocolate pastilles made in France, repackaging them in a bag with a logo and having this product represented as a transnformer product in Quebec is embarrassing. Although you could say that putting a product in a bag is a transformative step.

Additionally, as chocolate manufacturers, we are primarily a supplier for chocolatiers.

For example, the Mathilde Fays chocolate factory uses our chocolates in its creations. The Etat de Choc chocolate factory uses chocolates made in Quebec almost exclusively.

Both also use imported chocolates, depending on their need and flavor profile blend. However, these two companies clearly indicate on their packaging the origin and manufacturer of the chocolate. They are beautiful cases of transparency and expertise. They not only indicate the origin of the cocoa and the %, example: Tanzania 79%, but also who the chocolate manufacturer is.

And in their case, their products are in different subcategories.

In short, my request is to add another subcategory when you click on '' Confectioneries and sweet products '' to differentiate between chocolates, a bit like the NAICS classification clearly does.

I would also add a distinction between chocolate products made from imported chocolate and chocolate made in Quebec, as the chocolate makers mentioned above do so well.

Which would look like this:

  1. Confectionery and sweet products
    1. Chocolates
      1. Chocolate maker from cocoa beans
      2. Quebec chocolate confection
      3. Imported chocolate confection
  1. Confectionery
  2. Jams, jellies, marmalades and spreads
  3. Honey and maple products

You already make distinctions in several products, with clearer differentiations. These are other contexts, but we better specify the subcategories.

For example:

  1. Pisces
    1. Breeding
    2. Savages

or this one:

  1. Fruits and vegetables
    1. Canned and frozen foods
    2. Costs
    3. Dried and dehydrated

In this way, we would encourage the development of the manufacturing component and chocolate manufacturers like us and we would encourage the use of chocolate made in Quebec by chocolatiers like Mathilde Fays and State de Choc, to name a few.

Also, it is a way of educating consumers to ask questions about the origin of chocolate which is often very hidden and unethical.

Again here, not only the origin of the cocoa and the %, but where the cocoa was roasted, crushed, winnowed, refined, conched, etc. in short who is the manufacturer of the chocolate.

It is also easily demonstrable that job creation will be much more stimulated than if the chocolate industry continues to source almost exclusively from Europe.

It would also be a great opening to give a boost to other chocolate manufacturers.

Chaleur B Chocolat is a leader in the reappropriation of chocolate processing in Quebec. I repeat, no more cocoa grows in Belgium than in Quebec, and yet the majority of chocolate consumed in Quebec comes from Europe.

Why leave this industry to the Europeans? We have everything we need here to do it, in addition to saving cocoa from unnecessary transport across the Atlantic, especially when the cocoa comes from the Americas.

In 2020, we will make considerable efforts to ensure that consumers recognize the provenance of manufacturing. We will also be at SIAL as an exhibitor next April with a booth to present our chocolate collections available to chefs and artisans.

For your part, and without knowing the workings of your organization, I believe that the addition of subcategories in the ''Food prepared in Quebec'' section is something which does not affect the definitions of your two main sections and which will not prevent your current members from remaining members.

Recognition in the distinction of the origin of chocolate will bring more transparency and give a boost to the manufacturing industry here.

I invite you to contact me if you want to discuss it.


Danny Marquis


Brûlerie du Quai / Chaleur B Chocolat

200 Rte du Quai

Carleton-sur-Mer, Qc

G0C 1J0


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