Lassonde chooses diversification

A few months after blowing out his 100 candles, Lassonde returns to his chessboard, moving his pawns one by one to allow him to cross the next 100 years. To do this, the company intends to rely on the strategy that has served it so well so far and which is based on one word: diversification.

Long gone are the days when Lassonde boiled down to a small vegetable cannery on a row in Rougemont. Over the years, the company founded by Aristide Lassonde has stocked its range of juices, sauces and broths, drawing on the brands Oasis and Rougemont, but also Antico and Canton among others. In an interview with La Terre, the president of the company, Jean Gattuso, stresses, however, that he does not intend to stray too far from the distinctive element of his business, processed fruit products.

Lassonde Industries
Rougemont, Montérégie

Foundation year: 1918 by Aristide Lassonde

Owners : La famille Lassonde à 53 %

Employees : 2 200

Sales : 1 593 996 000$

Main markets : États-Unis (61%) et Canada (39%)

It is with this in mind that the company SunRype was acquired in October. In addition to getting their hands on yet another trademark, Lassonde is also launching into the fruity snacks that have made this western Canadian company famous.

The acquisition also allows Lassonde to own two factories: one in British Columbia and the other further south in Washington State. An opportunity that delights Mr. Gattuso. "Half of the apple production in the United States comes from there," he says. By adding these two factories to the 15 others that Lassonde already has, the company is getting closer both to its various consumer markets, but also to its suppliers, he added. "We sell a heavy and inexpensive product," says Mr. Gattuso. So you have to be close to the customer, but also to the raw material. "

A place for wine

In addition to increasing its range of juices, Lassonde has also tackled the wine consumption market by launching its Vins Arista subsidiary in 2006, using its Prisma and Tetra Pak cardboard packaging to make its place in convenience stores and grocery stores. of Quebec.

The company is now eyeing the Ontario side to increase the revenues of its subsidiary. It has also just taken a 19.9% ​​stake in the manufacturer Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits, thereby becoming its exclusive representative in the country. According to Mr. Gattuso, the taste of wines from the Niagara region has improved "incredibly" in recent years. "With climate change, we think it’s going to get even better," he added.

In the heart of Quebec

Although it has spread its tentacles all over the North American continent, Lassonde resolutely retains its heart in Rougemont, where the company modernized its factories in 2013 with investments of $ 19 million.

Mr. Gattuso says he has established a win-win relationship with Quebec producers over the years, "recycling" their imperfect apples to turn them into juice. "We take all the apples [they have for us]," he said, adding that Quebec farmers are not enough to meet the needs of its factories.

Lassonde also has a research and development team in Quebec that creates new product ranges for it. According to Mr. Gattuso, innovation remains one of the most important vectors of growth for his business.

Adapt, constantly

If Lassonde has successfully lived through the decades, it is above all because the company has managed to stick to consumer trends. This is its biggest challenge, according to its president, Jean Gattuso. "The markets are constantly changing," he says. If we don't adapt, we will die. "

The company also markets new products every year to meet the changing demands of its customers. The latest ones, notably from the Oasis Hydrafruit range, are part of the "health" and "hydration" lines recently adopted by Lassonde. Products which have among other characteristics to contain less sugar, which contain probiotics or which are protein.

The launch of these products occurred even before Health Canada no longer considered traditional fruit juices as fruit substitutes, a position that the department unveiled in its 2019 Food Guide. Mr. Gattuso also finds it difficult to digest this position , indicating that the Guide is "on the wrong track".

"A juice is always better than a fruit that you don't eat," he argues. It’s a way to allow people to look for the fruits they don’t eat. To add water to his mill, he says sales of fresh fruit have been declining in recent years in the country. "It’s not normal to tell people" just drink water

SOURCE : La terre de chez nous 

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