Maison Riviera expands distribution of Vegan Delight

Non-dairy yogurt line now in 900 stores after the brand found it appeals to a wide range of health-conscious Canadians.

Vegan Delights - Family
When it first launched its Vegan Delight Collection, high-end dairy brand Maison Riviera thought the new dairy-free yogurt line would appeal to flexitarians (those who sometimes follow a vegetarian or vegan diet), but it’s turned out to appeal to a wider base of consumers than initially thought.

“WMartin Valiquettee realized when we launched it, the reception was much higher than we anticipated because there’s so many people saying ‘I’m gluten allergic,’ ‘I’m lactose allergic,’ ‘I can not eat dairy,’ ‘I can not…’,” says Martin Valiquette, Maison Riviera’s general manager (pictured right). “We were not thinking of them at all, we were thinking of vegan and vegetarian, but I’m realizing possibly half of the people eating it right now are all people with dietary restrictions.”

The Quebec family-owned business that will turn 100 next year is perhaps best known for its Petit Pot Collection of yogurts that are sold in little glass pots and have shiny foil lids that peel off to reveal a range of luxury yogurts flavours, from cherry goat to blackcurrant organic yogurt.

But Maison Riviera’s latest yogurt isn’t actually a yogurt at all, it’s a faux-gurt, or what the company chose to call Vegan Delight due to Canadian dairy rules that prevent products that don’t contain any dairy from being called yogurt. And building on the swooping fonts and bright illustrations on its other products, the new dairy-free packaging echoes that of the brand’s dairy-full products. The company also opted to add calcium and protein to the coconut-milk base, which is free of dairy, gluten and artificial sweeteners. There are a range of options, such as the Vegan Delight Lemon that comes in the brand’s iconic glass pots, as well as other offerings (like Vegan Delight Raspberry and Blackcurrant) that come in a more traditional plastic yogurt container.

4x120g lemon

That attention to detail to both what’s on the outside of the yogurt cup (or glass), and what’s inside it, has paid off. The company did a test run of the new line in January across approximately 450 stores, including Métro Québec, IGA Québec, Métro Ontario, and several other independent stores in Québec and Ontario, as well as online via Lufa Farms website.

Following that successful pilot, the product line began rolling out at the start of May to an additional 450 stores in Quebec, Ontario and Western Canada, for a total of 900 across the country. While the Vegan Delight Collection is a high-end product, Maison Riviera believes it has mass appeal, stocking it in both luxe retailers like Whole Foods Market as well as more mainstream grocers like Sobeys and Loblaw-owned banners.

The company believes the Vegan Delight packaging done by Montreal’s Caroline Reumont Design will draw in not only vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians, but a wide swath of health-conscious, wellness-focused Canadians. “We’re doing demos in-store… we’re also offering a lot of samples. And that’s it’s really,” says Valiquette of the marketing efforts for the new product line. “We try to have the packaging speak for itself because our company does not have a large budget.”

Fiesta Farm

Since the dairy-free, coconut-milk “yogurts,” which company execs first tasted in Europe, are not actually yogurt, the line tends to sit in the fridge section that houses other non-dairy products, as well as natural and organic products – where everyone from flexitarians to those on the trendy keto diet can find items that meet their specific dietary restrictions, explains Valiquette.

A 2018 study by Halifax’s Dalhousie University found that about 7.1% of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians, and 2.3% vegans. The study also found consumers who earn more than $150,000 per year are twice as likely to consider themselves vegetarians or vegans compared to consumers earning less than $80,000. And those under 35-years-old (a.k.a. Gen Z and millennials) are three times more likely to consider themselves vegetarians or vegans than those 49-years-old and up (a.k.a. Gen X and Boomers).