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Stay small and play in the big leagues



Indira Moudi is convinced of one thing: humans will continue to consume meat even if the marketing of various substitutes such as vegetable proteins is gaining popularity with certain clienteles. The president and owner of Viandes Lafrance, in Shawinigan, is also convinced of something else: responsible meat production at the local level contributes to the decarbonization of the economy.

I have already introduced you to Indira Moudi as part of a major interview published in 2021 during which I told the singular journey of this industrial engineer trained at Polytechnique, born to a Nigerian father and an Indian mother, both doctors at the World Health Organization, who had an international career in management with large multinational energy companies.

In 2012, Indira Moudi returned to Quebec to take over the family business Viandes Lafrance, founded in 1929 in Shawinigan, whose third generation representatives had no successors to take over.

Viandes Lafrance was the largest multi-species slaughterhouse under provincial jurisdiction in Quebec until Indira Moudi obtained her certification from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency last November.

With this new federal certification, much broader horizons have now opened up for this local processing plant, which can now play in the big leagues, while reaffirming its desire to remain small.

“We are the first slaughterhouse under Quebec jurisdiction to obtain federal accreditation. We are subject to more norms and standards, but now we can sell our production in the rest of Canada and abroad, which we could not do when we were under provincial jurisdiction,” explains Indira Moudi.

It was in 2018 that the entrepreneur decided to take the first steps to obtain her new accreditation and she obtained it last November.

“It was a long process, we operated for almost five years with double standards, but now we can sell our meat in the big grocery chains that require federal accreditation and we can do more volume because the federal inspection regime is more effective.

“We transform in three and a half days what we used to do in five days. We have the capacity to process 100 milk-fed calves a day, we can triple production over the next few years,” said the president of Viandes Lafrance.

A local economy

There remain 23 slaughterhouses under provincial jurisdiction. Viandes Lafrance was the largest with twice the processing capacity of its nearest competitor.

“We want to remain a company on a human scale that transforms the animal production of breeders in the region. We work with local producers, around forty cattle, sheep and goat producers, whose farms are a maximum of four hours away from the slaughterhouse,” explains Indira Moudi.

We are talking here about a totally different model from that of large industrial processors like Cargill or Maple Leaf, which can process up to 5,000 or 7,000 calves a day, animals that sometimes have to travel hundreds of kilometers to get to the slaughterhouse.

“We are more concerned about animal welfare. We are becoming a local destination for Quebec producers of lamb, beef, calves and sheep. »

There are not enough federal slaughterhouses in Quebec and that is why our producers are forced to have their animals processed outside.

Indira Moudi, president and owner of Viandes Lafrance

Local breeding and processing also contribute to the decarbonization of the economy, while it is more rational to eat lamb from Charlevoix than from New Zealand.

Indira Moudi made a presentation on responsible meat at the last COP27 on climate change, just as she joined forces with Uruguay at COP15 on biodiversity to defend the model of local farming and processing. .

“Customers are willing to pay a little more because they know our products are local, fresher and tastier. We distribute our products in some 200 butcher shops and in Adonis grocery stores, but now we will be able to expand our reach.

“We will also be able to process more animals and better accommodate Quebec breeders in the Mauricie and Center-du-Québec regions,” said the president of Viandes Lafrance.

Indira Moudi was trained as an industrial engineer according to the model of mass production that had to be implemented everywhere, a model that had to be broken, she agrees today. You can stay small and have big ambitions. Participating in the decarbonization of the economy is a very noble one.

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