Chicory production in Quebec

Chicory has been produced in Western Europe for a long time. The production of this vegetable in Quebec is much more recent. At the end of the 70's the first chicory produced in Quebec was marketed by Sam Steinberg. It was 200 boxes.

Multiple French chicory growers left for Canada at that time, to continue their company there. They often have difficulty with the climate and agronomic circumstances. One of them is Jean-Michel Schryve. Nowadays his company - now in the hands of his son Philippe - has 75% of the Quebec market in their grasp. The company, which employs around thirty people, produces over 2,000 tonnes of chicory annually. Now the company has expanded with the cultivation of organic chicory and a red variety. It is twice as expensive, due to the high costs of the seeds and the meagre yield.

Two years ago Philippe marketed the brand Diva. On the packaging of this brand are recipes, to introduce the consumer to ways of consumption. In Quebec the chicory is eaten at Christmas, and 95% of the time in a salad. In Europe, where the demand for chicory decreases in the holidays, 75% of the chicory is cooked, but the consumption is declining due to competition from other small leaf varieties.

The chicory was discovered in Brussels in the mid-19th century. The white vegetable can be produced almost all year round. In the month of May seeds of a special variety of chicory are sown and the roots are harvest at the beginning of autumn. Then they are cooled and stored from 15 days to 10 months. After cleaning the roots they are placed in a dark place to germinate. After 20 to 25 days the chicory can be consumed. The slightly bitter vegetable remains sensitive to light: it makes the leaves green and gives it a more bitter flavour.

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