Getting the goods: P.E.I. business leaders gather to learn about exports

More than 100 entrepreneurs attended Export Day in Charlottetown, getting together to learn how to best sell their products to other markets.

Entrepreneurs share ideas and concerns at Export Day

Export Day brought Island business owners together to trade ideas about how to best sell their products outside Canada. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

More than 100 entrepreneurs attended Export Day in Charlottetown on Thursday, getting together to learn how to best sell their products outside of Canada.

Entrepreneurs discussed topics such as the U.S. market and NAFTA negotiations, emerging markets, and how to position a company or product to be export ready.

"We can't unravel or untangle that or unpack it," Kal Whitnell, senior director with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, told business leaders.

"We're doing everything we can. We've had business engagement and consultations with a number of companies on the Island, hearing what their thoughts, hearing what their concerns are, and we're representing their interests with the federal government."

Susan and John Rowe, of Island Abbey Foods Ltd., were this year's recipients of the Exporter of the Year award for P.E.I. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

John Rowe's company, Island Abbey Foods Ltd., was named this year's Exporter of the Year at the all-day event.

The company now exports products to more than 40 countries worldwide.

But getting your company's products into another province, let alone another country, presents challenges for small- and medium-sized local businesses, Rowe said.

"Export Day is incredibly important to help share our experiences, to educate Island entrepreneurs about not just the opportunities, but how to actually capitalize on them," he said.

Setting export records

International exports are at an all-time high on P.E.I. over the last three years, according to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and is once again tracking toward another record in 2017.

The province is ahead 6.3 per cent of last year's numbers through July.

Rachael Bedlington, consul general to Guangzhou, discusses emerging opportunities in China to more than 100 business leaders in Charlottetown. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Rowe said interest in Canadian-produced goods is growing at an accelerating rate.

"We have a very important brand on the Island. It is about high quality, safe, locally-produced product which resonates with consumers everywhere," Rowe said.

"Because of the ease of access to this information through the internet, people are literally reaching out to us from everywhere around the world.

"It is one of the biggest risks that exporters face and so you have to do your research beforehand and make sure you're prepared," he added.

About the Author

Tom Steepe

Video Journalist

Tom Steepe is an award-winning video journalist with CBC P.E.I.