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Mar 18, 2016

Laiterie Chagnon, a family committed to tradition.

Last week we introduced some new products from a brand new supplier, Laiterie Chagnon, and we wanted to share our enthusiasm for this local company who just so happens to be one of the last independent dairy producers in Quebec. That simply means that the family is still super involved in the day to day and they’re not associated to a large dairy producer.

Located in the Eastern Townships, a little over an hour away from our greenhouse, this family owned and operated company caught our attention right from the start for their integrity and regards towards exceptional quality. It’s those values that lead them to develop unique products such as their whole 3.8% whole milk, cultured butter (one of the only ones in Québec) and their ice cream flavoured with homemade fruit jams.

Wanting to get to know them more, we hit the road towards Waterloo to meet the owner, Denis Chagnon, who greeted us with a smile. Denis is the 3rd generation of the Chagnon family to run the business that was passed down from father to son. He and his brother, Luc, the vice-president of the company, run a tight ship and they make the rest of the company feel like family. The feeling of community and integration is felt throughout all the employees explains Samuel from marketing: “ We really have the feeling of being part of the family when we work here.”

Generous Men

Everything started our with the 1st generation Chagnon, Denis’s grandfather, who was selling milk from his own dairy farm. One thing led to the next and now with the company under his father’s direction, they started pasteurizing the milk and that is when La Laiterie Chagnon was born in 1954. Denis started to work for his father at a very young age learning the ropes through his mentor’s teachings. “ I never worked anywhere else in my life” says Denis. He slowly went up the ranks in the right order and worked at all the stations before becoming president. He not only became an expert on milk production throughout those years, but he also learnt the fundamental values of the company. Reminiscing on old slogans from past campaigns, Denis confirms “ It was always important to us that we offer a quality product with a very personal touch.” In fact, that personal touch not only impacts the way they sell their product but also their community where they are engaged in multiple ways. The local arena in Waterloo was actually named after Denis’s father, Jacques Chagnon, to thank them of their involvement in the town.

Guided by their values

For Laiterie Chagnon, a vow to quality means limiting the transformation of the raw product to a minimum, which is why they favoured the production of whole milk. They use a technique that Denis calls, gentle pasteurisation. Which means the milk is processed as little as possible in order to keep all the good components in milk, including all the good kinds of bacteria which help make this product beneficial for your health. Denis explains that their hormone and antibiotic free milk comes from about 20 farms from around their area who they have been working with for quite some time. In order to keep contact with the farmers and good working relationships, Laiterie Chagnon have their own truck that makes the route to pick up the milk at each farm.

Having an ecological conscience has also been part of the values of the company since the very beginning. “Back in 1969, we had already found ways to recycle the heat from out factory, which was very much ahead of our time” explains Denis. In the present day, the dairy factory takes its energy from parabolic sensors that are installed on the roof. It was his nephew who started and directed the project of installing solar energy to power the company. Always wanting to push boundaries, the family made the company peanut free over 8 years ago : “We were precursors in our industry” the president tells us.

The company, who now has over 34 employees, continues to differentiate itself with their niche products like cultured butter which is in very high demand from restauranteurs. “Normand Laprise from Toqué uses our butter” Denis tells us proudly. He also confides that he is very happy to find his products on the Lufa Farms market because it represents the best way for them to connect with you guys, the Lufavores. That personal touch with customers has been lost over the years and he’s happy to be able to find that connection once again. Which is a good thing because we are just as happy to be able to offer you their products alongside Laiterie des Trois Vallées’ delicious milk from Mont-Laurier, especially after knowing a little bit more about who’s making them and how passionate they are.

 

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