A consortium of four processing plants, Gaspe Cured Enr is renowned for its traditionally cured cod, although the company has now also become known for its gourmet lobster, smoked herring, and fresh and frozen groundfish products. One of the shareholder plants, Les Pêcheries Gaspésiennes, has developed high-end smoked products.
Gaspe Cured Enr frozen lobster products include whole, round or lobster tails. There are two Gaspe Cured lobster processing plants and each works differently. Separate plants develop the separate brands PSG and Cordier. “Both are excellent quality and each has its own unique way of working,” explains Rachel Tardif, Gaspe Cured Enr international sales manager and general manager. “The result is very high quality for each brand.”
Although each plant differs, both share the same philosophy that quality matters more than quantity, Tardif says. “We offer the highest quality,” she says. “In comparison to other companies that try to produce higher volumes, we prefer lower volumes to concentrate on quality.”
It is refreshing to work at Gaspe Cured Enr, she notes, explaining that many processors in the industry are overly focused on weekly production counts. Gaspe Cured Enr instead is focused on providing the best-quality sustainable products.
The company therefore invests in workforce training and in improving workforce processes at each plant. It only works with live, healthy product, discarding weak or unhealthy lobsters. “We only conserve the best ones,” Tardif says.
“Some plants will try all year to produce as much as they can to have the most product coming out each week,” Tardif says. “As we put the focus on quality, we have to invest in workforce training at the plant. In particular, we have very strict work methods.” It is now in the process of becoming certified GFSI, per the Global Food Safety Initiative, for example.
The market for smoked herring is especially strong in some U.S. ethnic markets. It is very popular among American diners with Puerto Rican, Dominican and Caribbean ancestry. “A lot of our herring product is sold in the Bronx, N.Y., and the southern United States,” Tardif explains.
The herring is fished locally in the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec. The dry and windy climate along the Gaspe coast has, for centuries, provided perfect conditions for salting and drying fish outdoors.
In 2014, Gaspe Cured built three new herring smokehouses onsite. “Production is increasing and demand is increasing,” Tardif states. “It is a very profitable product for us. We are developing new markets in Eastern Europe and evaluating other possibilities, as well.”
Business was not always so brisk, however. “It has changed very much,” Tardif notes. “Twenty-five years ago, we were just sending out a few truckloads per year. Now, volume has increased significantly. Our demand has exceeded the quantity we can offer so we have to refuse orders every day. That is why we have decided to invest in new smokehouses.” The company is considering adding sourcing partners beyond the local area.
For smoked herring, it processes more than 600,000 pounds of finished product each year. And for lobster, the amount adds up to more than 650,000 pounds of finished product through Gaspé Cured sales office.