Nova Scotia·CBC Investigates

N.S. seafood company accused of bilking 2 European firms out of $33K

Two European seafood businesses are buying Facebook ads and posting warnings in online seafood forums after they say they lost more than $30,000 to a Nova Scotia seafood company.

Companies say they placed seafood orders and never received product or refund

David Brandal of Oceanic Superfoods denies he has cheated two European seafood businesses out of money. (Facebook)

Two European seafood businesses are buying Facebook ads and posting warnings in online seafood forums alleging they lost money to a Nova Scotia seafood company.

Two firms say Oceanic Superfoods, run by David Brandal of New Minas, cheated them out of more than $30,000 when his company didn't deliver the product they ordered.

"Nobody should ever do any business with David Brandal," said Willem Sodderland, founder of Seamore, an Amsterdam company that makes pasta, wraps and imitation bacon from seaweed. "That's pretty clear."

He said he and the other company, Royal Ocean Seafoods of Aarhus, Denmark, started the communications campaign so that nobody would else would suffer losses.

Both companies say they connected with Brandal through online seafood forums.

Brandal admits there have been problems with the orders by both companies, but he denies that anyone has been ripped off. He said he will make good on his debts to these companies.

A new source of seaweed

Sodderland said he looked to the Maritimes after exhausting his supply of seaweed close to home.

"So we started looking for new sources and dulse is something which is easily to be gotten in Canada, and most notably Nova Scotia and New Brunswick," he said.

Sodderland said he paid approximately $13,000 for a delivery of about 450 kilograms of dulse in early December 2018. He uses it in his company's seaweed bacon.

He said everything seemed fine at first.

Simon Bay (left) and Kyle Rogerson say they didn't receive the $20,000 of salmon they ordered from David Brandal. (Skype)

"When we were four or five weeks into it, it really started to look like something was off," he said.

Tracking codes that Brandal promised to send never arrived, Sodderland said. Eventually, Brandal admitted the dulse had never left Halifax.

Sodderland said he arranged to pick up the dulse in Halifax several times, but Brandal always cancelled the meetings at the last minute.

Sodderland said he has never received his seaweed or had his money refunded.

"Nobody should do anything with this guy, except put him behind bars or educate him or put him in a program where he learns about ... being part of society," he said,

Trouble in Denmark

The owners of Royal Ocean Seafoods — Kyle Rogerson and Simon Bay — are also angry with Brandal.

Rogerson is from Lower Sackville, N.S., and studied business at the Nova Scotia Community College, while Bay's family works in the Danish seafood industry.

"We really wanted to get the product from Kyle's home to Denmark," Bay said.

"We had some really nice feedback because we were exporting all the great seafood from Canada … spreading the word about the greatness from the East Coast here in Denmark."

They said Brandal told them he could source about 2,270 kilograms of high-quality salmon from New Brunswick.

Royal Ocean found a buyer in Nova Scotia and sent Brandal $20,000. Everything seemed fine until the delivery date of May 14, 2018.

Willem Sodderland says he never received the dulse he ordered or the $13,000 he paid for it. (Skype)

"He cancelled the order a few hours before pickup … the truck was actually on its way and he cancelled a few moments before they were arriving," Bay said.

They said Brandal has since refused to return their money.

"He just kept stalling and not answering for a few days and then making out excuses constantly," Rogerson said.

"So, from there we had a pretty bad feeling in our gut that we had $20,000 sent overseas and really no leverage to get it back."

A small claims court in Nova Scotia has issued a judgment against Brandal and Oceanic Superfoods for $21,299.35. 

'No intention to harm or hurt anybody'

Brandal said there are reasons behind the problems that have occurred.

"We've had no intention to harm or hurt anybody and that's our position," he said.

He said in the case of the missing salmon, the price of the fish jumped by several dollars a pound, making the deal impossible.

He said the $20,000 he received from Rogerson and Bay wasn't just for salmon, but was a long-term investment in his company.

"The salmon couldn't come through, well, the price was just through the roof is what happened … and then they wanted to invest in the business for other product," Brandal said.

This is an example of one of the Facebook posts by Royal Ocean Seafood that warns people about doing business with David Brandal of Oceanic Seafoods. (Facebook)

Rogerson and Bay deny there was any such agreement.

They said Brandal later sent them a promissory note to return their money after a year with 10 per cent interest.

They refused to sign it.

Brandal said he plans to pay back the $20,000 he owes, with interest, in early May.

"We are hoping Mr. Brandal honours these dates," Rogerson said.

The case of the missing dulse

When asked about Sodderland's dulse shipment, Brandal told CBC News on April 5 that it was on the way.

"We finally got their order sent out today," he said. "That got delayed about paperwork, mostly."

Brandal couldn't remember the name of the shipping company, or of anyone who works there.

"They never told me actually," he said. "It's just like a depot in Burnside … They are not like a shipping company … I don't know any details on that. Nothing regular like Purolator or Fedex, though."

Sodderland said he's seen no sign of the shipment.

"I''m afraid David is up to his usual tricks," he said.

Second chances

Rogerson and Bay said the loss of $20,000 on their first major deal torpedoed their business. They say the worst part is the lasting damage to their reputation, both in Denmark and Nova Scotia.

The pair said they are slowly rebuilding, concentrating on lobster imports to Denmark and halibut exports to Canada.

Sodderland said he initially soured on doing business in the Maritimes, but he found a new dulse supplier in New Brunswick and placed another order — this time with funds held in escrow.

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About the Author

Jack Julian

Reporter

Jack Julian joined CBC Nova Scotia as an arts reporter in 1997. His news career began on the morning of Sept. 3, 1998 following the crash of Swissair 111. He is now a data journalist in Halifax, and you can reach him at (902) 456-9180, by email at jack.julian@cbc.ca or follow him on Twitter @jackjulian

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