Island Beef brand working, farmers say

Island-grown food appeals to Canadians and Americans, buyers say

International Shellfish Festival draws big buyers

The festival runs until Sunday. (CBC)

Efforts to use P.E.I.’s wholesome image to sell food products is paying off, buyers and sellers said at the International Shellfish Festival at Stanley Bridge.

The festival draws 11 major buyers to sample Island product. Farmers and government officials said the island’s new Certified Island Beef brand is working.

"The animal that is raised under Island Beef is born and raised on the island," explained Paul DeJonge of Atlantic Beef Products.

The brand promotes healthy, pure Island beef.

'Classic family farms'

Mark McEwen, a chef and food-store owner in Toronto, is helping to promote island beef. He said the image of a little province "stuck in the middle of the ocean" appeals to Canadians.

"You have small farms reminiscent of the 50s and early 60s, classic family farms that would raise 100 head, 200 head, 300 — not mechanized farms," he said.

Lonnie Lake, a national procurement manager for Sysco Canada, agreed.

"You just romance it, you romance it in a story. You don't have to say much. People picture Prince Edward Island as a beautiful island and when they're eating their steak, you just have close your eyes and picture that," he said.

Fishermen are also promoting the healthy island image of their products.

Nick Coughlan said it was good for business. "They're really looking for our oysters. Right now they're in high demand," he said.

Kevin Lyman has been coming to P.E.I. for 14 years to buy shellfish for his Boston-based company.

"Basically it’s good quality product, it markets well, sells well, good quality and is well known throughout the world," he said.

The festival runs until Sunday.