Van Houtte celebrates 100 years with foodie in-store promos

The Montreal-born brand is offering everything from recipe booklets to cooking classes as it celebrates a century in business.

Van Houtte has cooked up a partnership with four of Canada’s top chefs in celebration of its 100th birthday.

Unlike some brand mascots, the mustachioed, bespectacled man on its packaging was a real person. Van Houtte was founded in 1919 by Albert-Louis Van Houtte (a.k.a. the original Master Roaster) in Montreal, where the French immigrant brought his obsession with quality European-style roasting to Canadian consumers.


To celebrate the craft behind its coffee, the Canadian-born company, which is currently owned by Keurig Canada (now part of American-headquartered Keurig Dr Pepper), the coffee brand has partnered with four “master chefs”: Ontario’s Ted Reader, Alberta’s Michael Allemeier, Ontario’s Didier LeRoy and Quebec’s Sébastien Harrison-Cloutier. The partnership includes recipe booklets created in collaboration with the chefs, which are being distributed in 500 stores across Canada that sell the coffee brand.

“Our 100th anniversary is a great opportunity to collaborate with masters from various fields in order to integrate the notion of ‘masters’ in Canadian popular culture,” said Stéphane Renauld, director, brand management at Keurig Canada, in a press release. “This partnership with culinary masters is rooted in our Master Roaster’s boldness and innovation, and is part of an extensive, festive, creative, and unifying campaign to celebrate our 100 years of existence.”


Four different versions of the recipe booklet were created including a generic national recipe booklet and three banner specific booklets created for Metro Quebec, the Loblaw-owned PC Cooking School and Sobeys. There is also an online version of the recipes at, where people can enter to win a gourmet meal cooked at home by a master chef.

The brand plans to activate differently within each of the three retail banners. In Metro Quebec stores, shoppers can participate in an additional and exclusive contest when they buy a Van Houtte product and present their Metro & Moi card; while Sobeys will have a promotional team making stops at various locations and offering samples to consumers directly from a Van Houtte branded van. And via Loblaw’s PC Cooking School, shoppers can sign up for a cooking class to learn how to make some of the recipes for the Van Houtte booklet.

vanhoutteshipperThe brand also created point-of-sale material that can be installed in aisle. This includes aisle blades, danglers, shelf strips, pallet base wraps and milk crate cubes. The merchandising tools (the standing display shipper and half-pallet) were designed for secondary display sections, such as the centre power aisle, high-traffic sections and cross-merchandising with other items often consumed at breakfast, such as with cereal or yogurt.

The in-store promotion kicked off on April 1 and runs until August 31. The shopper activation is being handled by LPI Communications Group and Mosaic Sales Solutions, while the digital campaign was created by Lg2 and Communications Infrarouge is handling public relations.

Since 1919, much has changed in the Canadian coffee market, with several big coffee retailers that did not exist back then jumping into the grocery aisle in recent years, such as Starbucks, Tim Hortons and McDonald’s McCafé.

The foodie-focused initiative was inspired by founder Albert-Louis Van Houtte, as well as by the popularity of cooking shows and celebrity chefs these days in a bid for a company with a long history here to remain relevant and reach the next generation of coffee consumers in a hyper-competitive space.