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Sebastian Manago, CEO of the Food Island Partnership. He said the objectives are to establish P.E.I. as an international destination recognized as a “place of origin” for premium food products and culinary excellence.
P.E.I. 'can’t be a one trick pony'
Leveraging the P.E.I. brand name is important, but increasing the number of food companies across the province is a priority to ensure the Island isn’t a “one trick pony”, say Innovation PEI officials.
“We are executing an aggressive prospecting strategy and want to look at our key markets globally,’’ said Scott Ferris, director of Global Business and Trade Services for P.E.I. “We need to develop some signature events into those key markets and engage with Island expats to assist us.”
Ferris, currently on a trade mission in Europe, and Sebastian Manago of the Food Island Partnership, were updating their portfolio’s to a legislative standing committee and said the objectives are to establish P.E.I. as an international destination recognized as a “place of origin” for premium food products and culinary excellence.
“We’re trying to achieve economic impact and independence of the food sector because you don’t want to be dependent on one processor in one industry who buys your entire product and who could move out of the province tomorrow,” said Sebastian Manago of the Food Island Partnership.
Ferris said the idea is to be prepared for accessing markets when the European Trade Agreement is formalized as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership being considered.
“Everybody is familiar with the situation with U.S. currency right now, and basically Canada is on sale in the United States so it makes great sense for us to be looking at U.S. markets,” he said. “When those trade deals come into effect it will make a great deal of sense for us to be in those markets because of the reduction of tariffs.”
The standing committee of MLAs, chaired by Pat Murphy, was advised that many Island products are at the top of the game while many others still need work to improve image and marketability.
“Independence of our food sector means a lot of Jeff McCourt’s who want to live on P.E.I.,” said Manago, referring to the Glasgow Glen Farms operator. “I’m not talking about restaurant culture, I’m talking about the producers of the food that we have.“
The committee was advised the goal is to increase the number of processors and products on P.E.I. while improving the productivity of Island companies. Manago said Glasgow Glen Farm comes up as a prime business model and the Food Island Partnership wants a lot more of these companies along with a wine industry.
The group has a partnership with Food Valley in the Netherlands and part of the agreement includes exchange visits once a year.
“We go out on a mission to meet these companies and if we think these companies fit our portfolio, we invite them back. The first visit to Food Valley was done by the premier, and it’s important that the first door opens through the politicians.”
The group is also pursuing the quahog resource to make sure there is a consistent brand similar to the oyster industry and has recently had a request from Braggs to brand P.E.I. blueberries in the Japanese market.