Edmonton business lands Icelandic fish
'We really are a connected family now,' says business owner
It takes less than two days for the fish in Pat Batten's commercial fridge to get from the icy waters off Iceland to her store in west Edmonton.
The seeming distance between catch and cash has been shortened, thanks to a six-hour direct flight between Reykjavik and Edmonton International Airport.
That flight has also helped nurture a flourishing business relationship between Batten and an Icelandic fisherman.
"We really are a connected family now. And I just didn't know I had this family in Iceland," said Batten, the owner of Ocean Odyssey Inland, who says her overall sales have nearly doubled since partnering with Kjartan Andresson's business in Iceland.
"We talk to each other on Skype several times a day. Jan (one of Andresson's business partners) just had twins, and we are waiting to hear what the names are."
Andresson found Batten by typing "Edmonton" and "fish markets" into Google about a year ago. A simple search that led to each family spending time with the other in their home countries, and has landed both more business.
Batten said in the last year, her company's sales to commercial businesses, such as restaurants, has tripled. She expects the interest in Icelandic fish to only grow as more interest in a protein, other than Alberta beef, takes hold.
"Fish has been a learning curve for Alberta," said Batten. "Alberta is beef country. And we are trying to show that fish is an excellent food source as well."
Ocean Odyssey flies in a minimum of 600 lbs. of cod, arctic char, haddock and halibut, and in the summer will import monkfish, place and skate. Rather than being frozen and shipped, the fish arrives fresh and is offered to customers sometimes hours after its been caught in the North Atlantic.
"Our customers are very pleased with the quality of our fish, they come back every week," said Batten.
"They know Thursday is the magic day that our fish comes in, so our store is pretty busy on Thursdays and Fridays."
In March 2014, Iceland Air began flying into Edmonton. Months later, the fish started flowing from Iceland to Edmonton with the hopes that the empty belly of the plane would be filled with Alberta bison on the return flight.
That dream hasn't yet come to true, but Batten said some form of fish-for-meat trade may still happen.