PEI

Local P.E.I. food companies booming

Local food has been the talk of the food media for years, and now some P.E.I. companies are finding consumers are ready to put their money where their mouths are.

Consumers turning to local for food they can trust

Tourists have given local food company Lucky Fox a boost, even with the end of tourist season. (CBC)

Local food has been the talk of the food media for years, and now some P.E.I. companies are finding consumers are ready to put their money where their mouths are.

P.E.I.'s locally sourced and produced food market is in a boom, and much of it is coming from independent business.

People are turning to local for food they can trust, says Erin McGrath-Gaudet of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. (CBC)

"Every time you turn around there's another recall of different food products," said Erin McGrath-Gaudet of the Canadian Federation Independent Business.

"When you know a local producer and you trust what it is they're producing, certainly that is easier in a place like P.E.I. where you would have a better chance of knowing where your food is coming from."

Chris Van Ouwerkerk, creating of a beef jerky product called Jercules, understands what it is that local food consumers are looking for.

"I've processed about 1,000 pounds [450 kg] of just Island beef," said Van Ouwerkerk.

"What really makes a difference though is the ingredients themselves, making sure you don't have anything in it that shouldn't be there. Things you can pronounce, things that people recognize."

The business model is working, he said.

Chris Van Ouwerkerk is having trouble keeping up with demand for Jercules beef jerky, and hopes to expand soon. (CBC)

"I can't really keep up," he said

"I've just been doing what I can for now with hopes of expanding, and maybe hiring some people fairly soon."

[Tourists] want to experience part of the local scene.- Erin McGrath-Gaudet

It's the same at Lucky Fox Snack Company, which opened in the spring, making artisan potato chips and popcorn.

"There's so many people looking for local and for some reason there's no chips," said co-owner Stephen Ramsay.

"There's lots of chips and popcorn being consumed out there and we thought it would be a great idea to use the products that are so well known in P.E.I."

McGrath-Gaudet believes companies like Jercules and Lucky Fox may have a leg up on P.E.I. because of the existing tourism market.

"[Tourists] want to experience part of the local scene and see how things are made and take souvenirs home," she said.

Ramsay said Lucky Fox has certainly had a boost from tourists, even with the peak tourism season now over.

"Lots of customers stopped in during the summer, and we're shipping every day to Ontario, BC, Alberta they're looking for a couple of cases," he said.

Like Jercules, Lucky Fox hoping to expand and hire more people in the near future.

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