New Brunswick

Farmer says IGA takeover costing him thousands

Romeo Melanson says he’s left thousands of kilograms of his apples to rot in a field because IGA isn’t buying nearly as many as Co-op Atlantic used to.

Thousands of kilos of apples intended for grocery store left rotting in field

Romeo Melanson, of Melanson Orchard is heartbroken of the waste of his crop, "when you see that you worked a whole year for nothing." (Radio Canada)

Romeo Melanson says he's left thousands of kilograms of his apples to rot in a field because IGA isn't buying nearly as many apples as Co-op Atlantic used to..

"In the garbage. It's a total loss. It hurts to see that," said the farmer. "Heartbroke...when you see that you worked a whole year for nothing."

Romeo Melanson said Coop Atlantic used to buy most of his crop, but now that the store operates as an IGA, he's left with more than he can sell.
Melanson, 71 of Saint Andre-Leblanc near Cap Pele, owns Melanson Orchard. He says for years he relied on the Co-op to buy up his apples.

"It was going so good with the Co-op we figured it would keep on going, every year we were selling all our apples, there was nothing left in the spring."

But in June of 2015 Sobeys bought out many Co-op Atlantic locations, rebranding them under the Foodland and IGA banners.

That's when things took a turn for the worse for Melanson and his bottom line. He says more than 100,000 kilograms of apples he thought were destined for the grocery store, instead are rotting in his back field. He estimates the waste has cost him about $50,000.

"It's a lot for a small outfit like this," he admitted.

He said his biggest buyers were the Co-ops in Shediac and Bouctouche. With no warning, Melanson says the demand from the new IGA stores decreased so much he's forced to feed much of his crop to animals, and dump the rest.

"IGA could have said we're going to take your crop for this year, and next year look somewhere else but they didn't, so it's pretty nasty I would say on their part," said Melanson.

Melanson is looking for a new retailer, but hasn't had much luck so far.

"If we can't find any other place we're going to have to stop, quit farming" he said.

Sobey's responds

Laurie Fossat, with communications at Sobeys in Montreal, wrote in an email that each store operating under the Sobey's banner is free to sell local products.

"Stores in New Brunswick are supplied by Sobeys Québec, and yes, they do sell Quebec apples, but we also fully encourage them to buy local products, they have some leeway."