Canada is a cold country. Ottawa is considered the second coldest capital in the world, after Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. However, Canadian summers can also be boiling, and with summer just around the corner, people want cold treats to help them battle the heat.

Canadians love ice cream, but not just any kind. Ice cream is not typically healthy, containing high amounts of sugar and various allergens such as lactose and eggs. The ice cream industry includes frozen desserts, impulse ice cream, and hard ice cream to take home. However, according to Euromonitor, although the Canadian industry had a sales value of C$2 billion in 2016, its performance continues to slow down. As consumers become more health conscious, the need for ice cream with fewer calories and more natural ingredients increases.

Quebec based companies have made great headway in reinventing ice cream and providing consumers with what they are looking for. This year Sial Canada, the top international food show and gateway to innovative foods hosted a few artisan ice cream brands that aim to target the needs and wants of health-conscious consumers. They were among the over 900 Canadian and international food exhibitors gathered at the Enercare Direct exhibition center in Toronto, on May 2-4.

Lacrem: Healthier Ice Cream for All

Lacrem is a young manufacturer that produces vegan-friendly products. With diverse flavors such as chai tea, lemon and poppy seeds and apple pie, Lacrem brings forward the innovation expected to be found at Sial Canada. The creamy consistency and taste of the ice cream is rare for a vegan product, this along with its interesting flavours is what makes the Quebec-based ice maker so unique. Founded last year by Véronik Lacombe and her husband Éric Rémillard, Lacrem is a conjunction of each of their last names.

“We left our former jobs in the fashion industry and accounting to devote our energy to developing a unique brand of ice cream, that everyone could eat and enjoy,” said Véronik.

Sales have rapidly expanded in Quebec through health food retailers such as Rachelle-Béry, Les Marchés Tau, Avril Supermarché Santé and at large conventional retail chains like IGA and Metro. The brand also has some presence in Ontario. With hopes of expanding across the country and into international markets, Lacrem attended Sial Canada for the first time this year.

Top Glaciers: The Beauty of Collaboration

Top Glaciers Inc., a recently formed conglomerate of four Quebec-based artisan ice cream companies was also in attendance, presenting its delicacies at Sial Canada. Bilboquet, Glacier Essence, Hudson Ice Cream, and Solo Fruit recently chose to join efforts and resources under the Top Glaciers Inc., to maximize investments and the reach of their brands.  A smart business strategy, as all brands offer a wide variety of different types of ice cream, as well as flavours.

“We realized that we were not competitors, each brand had its niche, but we were struggling to reach the next step in our development,” said Colombian-born entrepreneur Felipe Gallon.

“Moving operations of all manufacturers under one production facility has helped to share operation costs, avoid duplication of some resources and has offered the chance to discuss, share, suggest and improve each product line.”

Solo Fruit stands out for its excellent vegan-friendly ice cream alternative, coming a long way since its small beginnings as an entrepreneurial university project. The company was established by Gallon 14 years ago and has since received recognition such as an innovation award at Sial Canada in 2010 and the Grand Prix Trends in 2017. According to Gallon, the ideal sorbet should consist of 100 percent fruit, and this was his aim when creating Solo Fruit. The sorbets are 100 percent natural, organic, sugar and lactose-free. They are also free from allergens such as nuts or eggs. Today, the brand offers six delicious flavors.

Essence Glacier is a top artisan ice cream brand founded by Alexis Dionne in 2014. Dionne partnered with Meilleur ouvrier de France [M.O.F.], master ice cream maker Jean-Marc Guillot to produce an exceptional ice cream.  The creative duo initially developed 17 spectacular flavors never heard of in the world of ice cream. The start-up made its debut at Sial Canada in 2015, presenting its top sorbet line in outstanding glass jars with flavors such as strawberry and basil, and passion fruit with rosemary. The exquisite ice cream was the winner of the Grand Prix Sial Innovation Award in 2016.

The other partners at Top Glaciers include artisan ice cream maker Le Glacier Bilboquet Inc., established in Montreal since 1983 and Hudson Ice Cream. Bilboquet was the first to offer a raspberry sorbet in Quebec, back in 1986, while Hudson Ice Cream gained a reputation for its premium ice cream sweetened with only 100% maple syrup. Increased reach of the individual brands will be expected, and more consumers outside Quebec will be able to enjoy the results of the smart collaboration, bringing all delicious and guilt-free ice cream lines offered under Top Glaciers to retail shelves across Canada and the world.