Quebec, Canada, is like a piece of Europe in North America — with its intoxicating French language, its rich food, and landmarks like the the Hotel de Glace — as well as an entire hotel made only of ice and snow.

Candy Industry Magazine recently coordinated a trip to the province with help from Virgilio Rubini, president of ChocoStyle Int’l.  While there we also got the chance to visit Laura Secord, Candara, and Morris National’s gift basket business. 

Chocolate is among the region's top food exports, and American would be remiss to ignore what’s going on up there.

“The food industry in Quebec is very, very important,” says Jean Leclerc, ceo of Laura Secord. “People in Quebec, they like to eat well, they like to eat sweet and my family we are in the food business for more than 110 years and there is a lot of old food family businesses in Quebec."

Of course, many of those companies have an eye on the U.S. market.

 “Canada is a country made for manufacturing and for export. There’s only so many products that we can put on the shelves. But we are also a very industrial country. A very developing country," says Rubini. "We do have a lot of good things to go into the market. We develop here, but we do have to tend with the market where there is volume and consumption.”

What follows is an inside look at four companies making their mark in various ways.

Rubini’s ChocoStyle is an artisan company, known for its decadent chocolate shoes. And Rubini also is working to grow his export business, Axenta, which focuses on helping companies navigate the North American market.

Meanwhile, Candara, which already has a modern manufacturing facility that it uses to produce private-label products and co-manufacturing, is getting into the branded space with its own iBar. Melissa Thibeault, controller for Candara, details what it’s been like to develop a product from concept to shelf.

And Leclerc talks about the changes his company has made at Laura Secord since buying the more than 100-year-old Canadian brand in 2010. And he also delves into Nutriart, his family’s bean-to-bar chocolate company looking to expand into the U.S. market.

Meanwhile, Morris National has a thriving gift basket business that pulls products from a variety of manufacturers.  Lorraine Koshman, v.p. of Morris National, talks about what products work best in gift baskets, and why they sell so well in club stores.

The four confectionery companies give insight into the confectionery scene in Quebec and how the trends affect the U.S. market.

Read more about Quebec's Chocolate Scene: