Given the importance of product quality at Leclerc and its manufacturing facilities, it’s natural to draw parallels between the industrious efforts of bees and Leclerc’s efforts to make the best possible cookies and snacks. Honey is a basic ingredient in Leclerc snack bars, and to ensure quality, the source and composition of the honey is regularly and closely monitored. Just like in the hive!
Nearly 700,000 kilos of honey are used every year to meet production needs at Leclerc’s seven facilities. The honey comes from different suppliers, one of which is Labonté, a Canadian honey producer. Leclerc likes to encourage local production, but has to source some of the honey it uses from outside Canada to meet production needs. Sébastien Beaulieu, vice president of quality at Leclerc, says, “The honey provided by Labonté’s is a blend of honey from three different countries but always includes honey made in Canada.” Honey from Argentina, Australia, Vietnam, and Brazil can also be found in Leclerc recipes. “Only honey approved by the European Community,” Leclerc points out. That’s an important detail in the manufacture of Leclerc’s private brands, which are exported around the globe.
The company is very selective in choosing ingredient suppliers. Taste, sugar content, color, appearance, and odor are important criteria for ensuring consistent honey flavor and quality, so honey suppliers must meet strict criteria. “Batches of honey from all our suppliers are tested every year to ensure quality and avoid fraud,” explains Sébastien Beaulieu, because like maple syrup, honey is sometimes diluted. “We send samples to a laboratory in Germany that analyses sugar profiles. The complex analysis makes sure the samples contain the right sugar content and are pure honey.” Other tests verify that the honey does not contain GMOs.
Honey has unique characteristics that make it irreplaceable in certain product recipes. “We use honey in our bars, among other recipes, because it’s very sticky and helps hold the ingredients together,” says Sarah Jobin, senior director of innovation, research, and development at Leclerc. So-called “industrial” honey also tastes better since it is combined with other sweet ingredients to make the syrup used in bar recipes. Since Vital products are healthier, “A higher proportion of honey will be used in the recipe to simplify the list of ingredients.”
Honey’s attributes can be used in different ways in Leclerc cookies and snacks. It’s an important ingredient that requires special attention to be able to offer consistent taste day after day, no matter which batch of honey is used. The quality of the honey is also essential to maintaining the Leclerc seal of quality.