Federal, provincial money set to help Islanders come up with new food products, find new markets
New partnership to cement P.E.I.’s reputation as top producer of food.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan told a group of dignitaries what he had for dinner Wednesday, and why he gave some to federal MP Gail Shea.
Both were on hand Thursday to announce provincial and federal dollars for a food research and marketing program called Canada’s Food Island.
MacLauchlan’s story was an allegory for that program.
He had for dinner, he said, a pizza he made with toppings of bar clams from Annand Clams of Conway, kale from the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market and Jeff McCourt’s pizza gouda cheese from Glasgow Glen, where Thursday’s news conference was held.
“I met with Minister Shea this morning and I brought her a couple of slices of that pizza and hope that I might get a piece of pie back, in exchange,” said MacLauchlan.
That’s like the Food Island Partnership program.
High quality product development, finding new markets, getting product to the market and telling buyers about P.E.I.’s great food. To make it all happen there is a new Food Island Partnership office in Charlottetown with a staff of four. A board of directors composed of people in the food business guides the partnership.
The staff will help new food company’s get established, help get funding and research for new food products, study and explore ways to adapt to and take advantage of changing global supply chains, and build up the reputation of the P.E.I. food brand.
It worked for Island beef as farmers and the beef plant worked together under a previous version of the partnership.
“As a beef farmer I have seen how this has been an advantage for our Certified Island Beef brand,” says Jeremy Stead, vicechairman of the P.E.I. Cattle Producers. “Food from Prince Edward Island certainly has market recognition.”
The province will invest $1.1 million over three years, with some of that money coming from the Canada-P.E.I. Growing Forward 2 agreement. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will add close to $500,000 through its Business Development Fund.
The private sector will also pay for their own participation in the partnership.
“Prince Edward Island is a great place to start a company,” said John Rowe, chairman of the partnership and founder of Island Abbey Foods Ltd., creator of Honibe dried honey products.
“With the Bio-Food Technology centre and Canada’s Smartest Kitchen we have two world-class food product development centres ready to help any company in their pursuit to access new customers,” said Rowe.
“As an entrepreneur, I owe much of my success to the services I have received from our PEI food development infrastructure.”
John Rowe, chair of the new Food Island Partnership, speaks Thursday as master of ceremonies announcing federal and provincial funding for the project. The partnership between government and the private sector will create an office to help individuals or farm groups develop new food products, start up food businesses and market food products.