P.E.I.'s lobster industry will play a part in the provincial government's initiative to become 'Canada's Food Island'. (CBC)

A new branding initiative was launched today by the provincial government to make and promote Prince Edward Island as Canada's Food Island. 

Premier Wade MacLauchlan made the announcement today at the Easter Beef Show and Sale. 

“Islanders are proud of our food culture; we are deeply connected to the land and sea, and harvest some of the finest products in the world, including potatoes, shellfish, blueberries and beef,” said MacLauchlan. 

“Food is a vital component of our provincial economy. Forty per cent of our international exports are from food processing, and food processing and primary agriculture accounts for ten per cent of our provincial GDP." 

The initiative is intended to grow P.E.I.'s reputation as a producer of internationally-recognized premium culinary products, and establish the Island as the destination for culinary excellence.

In 2014, P.E.I. reached the $1 billion mark in foreign exports for the first time in a single year. 

“The increasing interest in food tourism and high-quality Prince Edward Island-branded food products are the key foundations for the growth of my business,” said Jeff McCourt of Glasgow Glen Farm. It produces artisan cheese and bread. 

The initiatives will build on events such as the Fall Flavours Festival. Plans include: 

  • Establishing new lending programs for PEI beef farmers to launch a new “PEI Lean Beef” initiative;
  • Expanding the Island’s fresh lobster holding capacity through expansion of existing facilities and, where required, the establishment of new ones;
  • A new partnership with Quebec celebrity chef Ricardo. Quebec is a key market for tourism;
  • Encouraging Islanders to purchase local food; and
  • Exploring new market relationships for seafood in European and Asian markets and identifying opportunities for new products.

PEI Fishermen’s Association president Craig Avery said the Island's reputation as a producer of high-quality lobster products has been vital in the emergence of their brand. 

"It’s imperative to all fishermen that we leverage that brand equity in all our markets to help achieve premium prices for our amazing products," said Avery. 

The provincial government plans to work closely with the food and fish industries and the federal government to open new markets. It will also encourage partnerships among government and producers to implement a provincial food strategy.

"It starts at home so we start with the things we believe in and that we take pride in. We build on those successes, we build our own identity and we build a lot of business in the process," said MacLauchlan.