Food In Canada

Innovation on ice

By Nithya Caleb   

Beverages Fruit & Vegetables Editor pick Frozen beverages frozen foods La Presserie Ontario SIAL Canada

La Presserie’s frozen juices and foods bring freshness to the freezer

La Presserie uses a proprietary flash-freeze technology to create frozen juices, cocktail mixers, salad dressings, and soups. Photos © La Presserie

La Presserie’s founder, Adolph Zarovinsky, is no stranger to the food processing business. He founded and ran Tiffany Gate Foods, a manufacturer of fresh food products (e.g. salads), for several decades, before selling it in 2017 and taking cautious steps toward retirement. However, the retirement, if any, was short-lived. Very soon, the then 70-year-old’s mind was buzzing with product ideas. Thus was born La Presserie, a Toronto-based award-winning frozen F&B manufacturing start-up. I visited their 50,000-sf plant in Scarborough, which began operations in 2021.

La Presserie specializes in premium plant-based food and beverage products, such as cold-pressed frozen juice and cocktail mixers, prepared foods, salad dressings, and soups, made using a proprietary flash-freeze technology. The company has won several awards, such as the 2021 Local Innovation Award from Sobeys for their dressings; a 2022 SIAL Innovation Award for cold-pressed vinaigrettes; a 2023 Best Condiment Award from Grocery Innovations Canada for plant-based miso dip cups; and a 2023 SIAL Innovation Award for their cold-pressed cocktail mixers.

Zarovinsky was motivated to start La Presserie because of an innate curiosity about plant-based foods as well as a desire to do something different from what he achieved at Tiffany Gate Foods. Since he grew up in a family that ate a lot of fruits, vegetables, and grains, and meat consumption was limited to special occasions, Zarovinsky had an appreciation for these ‘gifts’ of nature. Zarovinsky was also aware that the plant-based movement has a bad reputation in Canada.

“People think plant-based food is not tasty or good and limiting,” he said.


Zarovinsky wanted to experiment with plant-based foods and see how far he can go with things that are underutilized in that sector without compromising on taste.

Taste is key

On several occasions during our interview, Zarovinsky stressed that his only goal is to offer consumers delicious food, as evident by the company’s tag line of “délicieux” (delicious in French). Everything else about the product—be it health claims, vegan, or plant-based—is incidental.

“When a product is declared to be plant-based or vegan, people automatically assume the food to be of a certain type. I don’t like that,” he said, as there’s a huge pool of consumers who simply want great tasting food regardless of labels.

La Presserie earned a 2023 SIAL Innovation Award for its cold-pressed cocktail mixers.

A whole new world

After having decided on the type of product to make, which initially was cold-pressed juices, the biggest challenge, for La Presserie, was shelf life.

“Our previous company was designed to do chilled food with short shelf lives. This brought about logistical challenges. We did not know until late afternoon what we’re going to make tomorrow because the shelf life was literally days. We couldn’t make it in advance. Trying to use very short shelf-life raw materials to produce very short shelf-life finished goods was a logistical nightmare. When I started this company, I decided we cannot do this. We’re going to do frozen,” he explained.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, prepared frozen foods were perceived as quick-fix meals. One didn’t expect freezer foods to taste good or be healthy; it was a convenient way to satiate hunger.

In Zarovinsky’s opinion, frozen foods also “destroyed family dinners,” as people ate at their convenience. In many traditions, food is a way of socializing. It’s a family affair, as described by Zarovinsky. People come together to cook, share, argue as well as enjoy each other’s company. With quick-fix frozen meals, there was no longer a need for families to eat or prep meals together, he added.

“Further, frozen food is cooked at least three times. First, it has to be cooked, then frozen, which is a form of cooking, and the third time you cook it when you heat it. Now, who wants to eat food that’s been cooked three times. We looked at all this and we decided we’re going to do it differently,” he explained.

La Presserie’s main goal is to offer consumers delicious juices. Everything else, be it health claims, vegan, or plant-based, is purely incidental.

Cold means 4C or less

At La Presserie, the cold-pressed juices and smoothies from fruits and vegetables are flash-frozen immediately to avoid deterioration. They don’t add any chemicals nor take out anything from the juices.

“When temperatures are raised, the very volatile components that create flavour, aroma, taste, and freshness in juices, enzymes, and vitamins don’t survive,” he explained. Hence, the juices are frozen immediately. The company has also been able to extract juices out of hard raw materials like spinach and ginger.

While the pandemic complicated things for young companies like La Presserie, the timing couldn’t have been better to launch a frozen product. Eager to avoid infections, consumers bought frozen foods to limit store visits.

La Presserie’s beverages are sold in small 213-ml bottles that are an easy addition to lunch boxes.

In fall 2023, La Presserie debuted four artisanal Asian soups.

Marching ahead

Once the technology and process were perfected with juices, La Presserie introduced a line of cold-pressed and creamy salad dressings and dips at SIAL Canada in 2022. The vinaigrette-based dressings are made using cold-pressed juices and fresh herbs; they’re sold frozen. The creamy dressings, on the other hand, are sold refrigerated, as they have plant-based mayonnaise and the starch in the creamy dressings is cooked.

Once again, Zarovinsky stressed that while these “dressings are low-calorie, we don’t advertise them as such. People can review the nutritional facts table and determine for themselves.”

He added, “We do not make any health claims because I don’t believe we can prove it scientifically. There’s nothing negative about fruits and vegetables. They can’t hurt you. To say that you have to eat it because it’s healthy is counterproductive. Most of the time healthy food doesn’t taste good. What we’re saying is, our food is delicious and happens to be healthy. We want to serve consumer’s needs. The most important thing about our food is that it’s delicious. Surprisingly, when we got into this business of plant-based, cold-pressed foods, everybody in that business was touting the ‘healthy’ aspects of their products. I believe that people come back to the same food because they like the taste… Delicious is what we aim for. We want them to fall in love with what they eat, and make sure that it is safe for them to eat and is enjoyable. If that happens, I did my job.”

A start-up mindset

La Presserie’s strength is product development. Within three years, the company has launched seven product lines. Besides juices and smoothies, salad dressings and dips, the company introduced premium frozen cold-pressed cocktail mixers in 2022. These mixers are made with raw, cold-pressed fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

In fall 2023, La Presserie entered the frozen prepared food category with a line of four Asian soups. The packaging of these meal-sized soups is unique. Unlike many frozen foods, the skin-film packaging allows you to see the actual product. I got to taste the Tom Yum Thai-style Lemongrass Soup during my plant visit. It was earthy and fresh, an unlikely (one might say) description of a frozen food product. To ensure the food isn’t overcooked by the time it reaches our dinner tables, most of the vegetables in the soup are packed raw. They get steam-cooked in the microwave for the first time when you heat it. Zarovinsky added that each broth was specifically designed for the product with respect to the country of origin.

“Pasta is custom-made because it must behave in a specific way; it has to survive freezing and reheating. A lot of food engineering and design has gone into” these soups, he explained.

For years, frozen food has been considered not as good as fresh produce. Nothing could be further from the truth. If done properly, frozen food can be as fresh as new produce. Plus, it can reduce waste. It takes a lot of skill to create frozen food, though, as not every food or ingredient can be frozen. With meticulous work, diligent R&D, and laser-eyed focus on serving delicious foods, La Presserie is redefining the frozen food aisle with its premium, hi-quality products.

This article was originally published in the February/March 2024 issue of Food in Canada.

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