Que. berry processor backed for beverage line

A strawberry, raspberry and blueberry orchard in Quebec’s Mauricie region has picked up federal and provincial financing to process and market its alcoholic berry beverages.

Canada Economic Development, a federal agency in Quebec, on Thursday pledged $75,000 in repayable funding through its Community Diversification program for Les Boissons du Roy, based at Ste-Anne-de-la-Perade, about 40 km northeast of Trois-Rivieres.

The province’s ag, food and fisheries ministry on Thursday announced another $50,000 in funding for the company, through a regional diversification and commercialization program.

The federal funds are earmarked for construction of an agrifood processing shop and to buy specialized equipment including a cylinder press, vats, bottle washers and a cold room, for the "small-scale production of berry-based beverages."

CED "chose to fund this project of Les Boissons du Roy, a creative family-run business, because of the interesting economic prospects it opens up" for the Les Chenaux municipality, Denis Lebel, the federal minister for the agency, said in a release.

Francoise Cossette and Normand Gauthier developed Boissons de Roy to make homemade beverages from the berries grown on the Tournesol farm they’ve operated since 1987, the federal government said.

"The success garnered by their value-added products in market tests, particularly on urban markets, convinced the entrepreneurs of the growth potential to be harnessed in processing these berries."

The operators have a 4,000-square foot building to house their processing and production shop, restaurant, interpretive centre and boutique selling local products, the federal government added.

The provincial funds, meanwhile, are earmarked toward development of an "agritourism complex" at Boissons du Roy’s facility.

Provincial Labour Minister Julie Boulet said the agritourism facility will allow the company to further improve its drinks’ sales through tastings and promotional events.

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