March 9, 2009
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor
Staying a cut above the competition through effective product differentiation is critical in any business—especially so in the fiercely competitive and highly regulated deli-meat processing industry, where even a slightest production or packaging faux pas can quickly turn into a company’s worst nightmare.
Fortunately for the family-owned Les Cuisines Gaspesiennes—located in the Quebec town of Matane on the Gaspé Peninsula, on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River—moving the business forward through continuous improvement and innovation has always been one of its strongest suits since the rather humble beginnings in 1981, according to the company’s owner and general manager Enrico Carpinteri.
“My father Tony, who was at the time flipping pizzas for a living, one day saw a pizza parlor for sale in Matane, so he just bought it and ran it along with one of his brothers, who at the time drove a truck for [cheese producer] Saputo,” says Carpinteri, relating how the three-person shop started out by making pizzas, submarine sandwiches and cretons—a Québécois cuisine specialty pork spread spiced with onions and other spices.
A few weeks after the shop opened for business, a local supermarket owner impressed with the quality of pizza made there approached Tony with an offer to supply his store with pre-cooked pizzas—providing a nice launching pad for quick expansion into other convenience foods such as egg-rolls, spaghetti sauces, salami, pepperoni and cooked ham.
After a fire destroyed the rented production facility in 1986, Gaspesiennes decided to build its own 10,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, which was quickly followed by a logical change of the company’s strategic focus into the prepared meat products segment of the market.
Today, the company Carpinteri describes as “the largest of the small meat-processing companies and the smallest of the largest such businesses” produces over 30 high-quality, meat-based products distributed throughout most major supermarket chains in North America, and employing over 140 people at a state-of-art, 35,000-square-foot, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) -certified production facility.
“Needless to say, the success of our food has warranted many upgrades in the past 23 years,” he told Canadian Packaging in a recent interview.
“We have expanded our production facility 10 times now … plus we have more than enough land to double its size later when the time is right.”