Rio Tinto Partners with Stobia, the Only Quebec-based Manufacturer of Food Packaging

Courtesy photo

In an unstable market for aluminium food packaging products, Stobia saw an opportunity to launch its business and is, as of December 2020, the only Quebec-based food packaging manufacturer. To help the project gain momentum and prominence, Stobia’s promoters were able to rely on the support of the Regional Economic Development (RED) team and its expertise in the aluminium field.

Seeing the project’s potential, especially due to its innovative character and capacity to diversify the regional economy, the RED jumped in with both feet, providing funding as well as technical and networking support.

The project’s outcome

William Allard, President at Stobia, said, “We wanted to stabilise the food market’s supply, as the container shortage left several players in the food processing industry vulnerable. The demand for packaging was very high, but supply was very low. We turned to aluminium because its value-added properties, particularly the environmental ones, make it a worthwhile option.”

From the outset, the RED team helped the project take off by serving as a valuable source of information, sharing its aluminium knowledge and network of contacts.

“We were first drawn by Stobia’s target industry, since not many businesses in the region are involved in the tertiary processing of aluminium,” said Joseph Langlais, Project Director, RED. “The project was well presented, with a solid business plan and passionate promoters. It was also an opportunity to reduce external procurement and promote local buying through a business that values aluminium products.”

Mr. Allard added, “We immediately connected with Rio Tinto because that company is well known in the region. We already had expertise in retail and in the distribution network, but to develop our project, we needed to learn more about aluminium. With Rio Tinto’s involvement, we were able to shift into high gear, particularly by getting aluminium procurement references. This support helped us to minimise our mistakes by getting the right alloys for our products and to become more confident and well-known among investors. Through information and knowledge sharing, we saved a lot of time in starting up our business. The reassuring support that we received has played a major part in us tripling our production capacity today.”

Mr. Langlais noted, “We have developed a special bond, and we were very committed to this project’s success. For an entrepreneur, having access to a network of contacts and to information on the various issues surrounding the aluminium industry is a valuable resource that is worth its weight in gold.”

Stobia was launched a little over two years ago and, with its plant in the Jonquière borough, is now well established in the region. The impact of Stobia’s partnership with the RED continues to be felt today, particularly through the high-performance products that Stobia developed with the help of the RED team, which provided expertise and knowledge and acted as a mentor and ally in this project.