Père Olive takes a boat to your table
Like 80% of the products we use every day, the olives we enjoy with a drink over the holidays got here through the Port of Montreal.
Vincent Buttiens, manager of the Fromagerie at Atwater Market
As the holiday season gets closer, Quebeckers stock up on provisions and spoil themselves with a few treats. To supply its clients, the Fromagerie Atwater cheese and deli shop triples its orders of fresh olives. That’s because more and more Quebeckers are fond of them. “Compared to pickled olives or olives in oil, fresh olives are crunchier and not too salty,” said Vincent Buttiens, manager of the Fromagerie at Atwater Market for 16 years.
These fresh olives that will be found at Quebeckers’ holiday cocktail parties come from Père Olive, a Belgian company that is the European leader in the distribution of fresh olives and exports to 20 or so countries, including Canada. Its olives are from Greece, Spain, Morocco and France.
Every two or three weeks, a container full of Père Olive olives is unloaded at the Port of Montreal. Managing this import chain is Olivier Grossman, a Belgian based in Montreal who founded his company DELIPRESTIGE in 2013. “I import a tonne of olives every three weeks,” he said.
To begin with, the olives are packaged and packed in cases at the Père Olive facilities in Andennes, southeast of Brussels in Belgium’s Walloon region. Then they are put in a refrigerated container and loaded onto a truck that heads to either the Port or Antwerp or the Port of Le Havre. From there, the container is loaded onto a transatlantic container ship. Destination: Montreal!
The crossing takes 13 days for the large merchant ship to reach the Port of Montreal. The terminal cranes will then remove the container from the ship and place it on a truck. Direction: bonded warehouse. The Père Olive olives will be cleared through customs and pass a sanitary inspection before heading to the DELIPRESTIGE warehouse in Laval.
Once there, the cases of olives are sorted and placed on pallets before being delivered by refrigerated truck to 80 grocery stores and points of sale in the Montreal area, including La Fromagerie Atwater. “Sales are good and I’m aiming for 280 points of sale within a year,” said the young importer Olivier Grosman.
Twelve varieties of Père Olive olives are sold in Quebec. The best sellers? “The pitted green olives and the mix of green and black olives with herbs from Provence. But they all sell well. Just open the lid and they are ready to serve to guests,” said Vincent Buttiens. It’s true. They’re a real treat!