A recent seafood promotional trip to Alberta cost taxpayers close to $24,000, according to documents tabled in the legislature Thursday.
Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley led the expedition, along with two of his staff and the head chef of the Culinary Institute of Canada.
Together, they entertained restaurateurs, chefs and others in Edmonton and Calgary with over $3,600 worth of P.E.I. seafood.
A report detailing the trip expenses and details, tabled in the legislature by MacKinley Thursday, says this trip fell within the mandate of the department as it helped to promote P.E.I. seafood to existing markets.
“The purpose of the promotion was to create a greater awareness and demand for Prince Edward Island seafood products in Western Canada,” the document states.
“By hosting promotions in Alberta, the department was focused on expanding an existing Canadian market.”
The Calgary event was held on Sept. 9 at a venue called The National. It was reception hosted by MacKinley for Calgary chefs and restaurant owners to promote Prince Edward Island seafood products. MacKinley posted photos of this event on his Facebook page. They show the venue crowded with the happy faces of guests posing with MacKinley, drinks in hand.
Another event was held Sept. 12 at the Edmonton Golf and Country Club.
The report says both venues were recommended by “market contacts” based on their locations, facilities and “ability to accommodate the requirements of the promotion.” Invitations for these events were coordinated through the department, the Concorde Group Alberta and Sysco Foods Calgary and Edmonton. Invitations were extended to chefs, restaurateurs, retailers and food service distributers.
MacKinley and P.E.I. seafood were also front and centre at the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival on Sept. 19.
The total expenses for this promotion also includ a prize awarded for a trip for two to P.E.I.’s Shellfish Festival for a lucky Alberta couple.
MacKinley said the trip has already proven a successful venture.
“Since the trip, Sysco Foods, one of the largest food distributers in Canada, has added another P.E.I. company to its list of vendors and they have also indicated their interest in buying more lobster and cherrystone clams,” MacKinley said.
“Almost two million people, including many Atlantic Canadians, live in Calgary and Edmonton. We know there is a market for our seafood there and I am very proud of our efforts, both from our seafood exporters and staff, to increase sales in Alberta.”
Here is a breakdown of the Alberta seafood promotion trip costs:
Chef services – Culinary Institute of Canada - $5,461.92
Department staff travel - $7,132.22
Seafood - $3,686.68
Shipping (seafood) - $1,081.35
Venue costs - $3,570
Prize winners - $1,558.70
Minister’s travel and expenses - $984.69
Total - $23,475.56