Canada has distinct cultural differences across its regions, and nowhere is this more evident than in Quebec. But, it’s not just the province’s French-speaking residents who make it unique, their eating habits are also very different, which means foodservice use in Quebec differs significantly from the rest of the country.
NPD’s CREST foodservice tracking shows Quebec represents 17 per cent of Canada’s commercial foodservice traffic. But, while Quebec’s share is smaller than Ontario’s (41 per cent), in 2012, it was one of the fastest-growing Canadian regions for restaurant traffic, with traffic and dollar gains in QSR and FSR and total growth of five per cent.
According to NPD’s “Eating Patterns in Canada (EPIC)” report, the majority of Quebecers think it’s important to eat complete and regular meals each day. As a result, supper traffic over-indexes considerably in Quebec, compared to the rest of Canada and lunch traffic is also higher. However, afternoon and evening snack occasions are making strong gains at QSRs and retail outlets in the province, and morning and evening snack occasions are also growing at FSR.
In fact, while FSR experienced declines or slow growth in other regions over the past two years, it continues to grow in Quebec with dollar gains of five per cent and traffic gains of four per cent in 2012. The largest increases are in the casual segment, which means casual chains may have an opportunity to expand in this market, especially since 71 per cent of FSRs are independents.
In contrast, Quebec’s QSR market is underdeveloped compared to the rest of Canada. In Ontario, seven out of 10 visits are made to QSR, while, five out of 10 visits are made to QSR in Quebec. But, in 2012, QSR dollars and traffic grew in the French province, with the majority of increases coming from snacking occasions. More specifically, combined AM, afternoon and evening snacks now account for 36 per cent of the province’s QSR traffic. This could be because Quebecers are moving away from QSR at lunch and supper and increasingly using FSR for key meal dayparts.
Reaping the benefits
In short, foodservice manufacturers and operators should cater to Quebec’s culture by understanding the desire for full meals — such as supper — while promoting the benefits of snacking. Moreover, as this sector continues to grow, chain operators may want to explore expansion opportunities, especially those in the casual segment.