If you’ve had trouble finding an ice pack, you’re not alone. In recent weeks, customers have left their grocery store or supermarket empty-handed, leaving many wondering if we’ll run out of them by the end of summer.
Last weekend, The newspaper tried the experiment in several companies. In almost all cases it was impossible to get ice.
“We’ve been trying to get some for several weeks, but it’s very difficult,” the manager of one IGA told us.
“We didn’t get any bags for three weeks. We just received some there,” added the manager of a metro in northern Montreal island yesterday afternoon.
At another store, a Couche-Tard, the freezer had been empty for more than a month.
“Customers want it, but we can’t get it,” complained one manager.
The problem comes from the main ice cream producer and supplier in Quebec, the American company Arctic Glacier, which holds 75 to 80% of the Quebec market.
Arctic Glacier Fiasco
According to our information, the transfer of its activities between the former Pointe-Saint-Charles plant and its new facilities in Dorval was poorly planned.
“It was really a fiasco. They didn’t do preventative storage and they dismantled their old factory when the other one was down,” a source told us.
Arctic Glacier would not answer our questions. But in English, the company said via email that its new factory would increase production.
“With the new capacity available, our Montreal customers will experience less stock-outs at their favorite retailers,” assures Arctic Glacier, which has also struggled with labor shortages.
Quebec players benefit
The ice cream maker even had to enlist the help of a Quebec player, Glace Carnaval, to meet demand.
“We have been working with them since the end of May. We packed the whole summer for her. Our production is currently running 24/7,” said Alexandre Soucy, owner of the company, which mainly supplies the Hautes-Laurentides, Abitibi-Témiscamingue and the Chibougamau region.
Another independent producer and distributor, Les Marchands, uses the current context. Due to the problems at Arctic Glacier, the 10-employee SMB saw its contracts increase by 12-15%.
Photo Olivier Bourque
Conrad Pomerleau, co-owner of Les Marchands ice cream maker, has no shortage of customers.
“We have several people calling us. If the independents hadn’t been there, we probably would have run out of ice this year,” said Pierre-Olivier Prince, owner of the company founded in 2015.
Worse this year
The young leader also believes that all of the smaller Quebec players have gained customers in recent months.
“Even last year, at the same time, in the middle of a heat wave, there were stockouts. But this year it’s even worse,” he said.
However, the problems should ease in the coming weeks with the end of the warm temperatures and the drop in demand.