Island companies, government at major trade show in Boston

Dave Stewart
Published on March 8, 2016

More than a dozen P.E.I. companies are attending one of the biggest annual international seafood expos this well. From left, are Paul Runighan, sales with P.E.I. Mussel King, Whitney Hooper, Raspberry Point Oysters, James Power, Raspberry Point Oysters, and Bonnie Macdonald, Innovation P.E.I.

©Submitted photo

Approximately 14 exhibitors from P.E.I., involving 80 people, at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Mass

The world was dining on Prince Edward Island seafood on Monday night.

Approximately 14 exhibitors from the Island, involving 80 people, are currently taking part in Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Mass.

Monday's reception featured P.E.I. mussels, smoked salmon, lobster and oysters. More than 1,200 companies representing 40 countries are taking part in what is the second largest seafood expo in the world every year.

People from all over the world source seafood, talking to buyers and sellers in the process.

Raspberry Point Oysters in Cavendish launched its Daisy Bay brand at this show three years ago.

"It was certainly a huge, huge boost to our business,'' James Power, manager of Raspberry Point Oysters, told The Guardian by phone from Boston. "We're hoping for an increase but we wouldn't expect that kind of response this year.

"This year we're hoping for modest increases but you never know where the gem is.''

Some of the Island companies attending the expo include Atlantic Aqua Farms Inc., Charlottetown Metal Products, Confederation Cove Mussels Co. Ltd., Formutech Inc., Medallion Trading P.E.I. Inc., P.E.I. Mussel King Inc., P.E.I. Aqua Farms Inc. and Royal Star Foods.

P.E.I. taxpayers won't really know how much the trip is costing them until all the bills are in after it's over but it cost the province about $70,000 last year.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac are also there.

"It really is a great place to rub shoulders, building new business . . . and touch base with buyers once in a year on a face-to-face basis,'' McIsaac said.

"We have a lot of businesses here that are secure in their own sales working with people who have been purchasing their product all along.''

Power says networking events as big as the Boston show have helped Raspberry Point Oysters grow in P.E.I., from 1,800 oysters sold in the mid 1990s to sales that exceeded nine million last year.

"We're talking to customers down here, telling them we have more capacity to sell and hopefully find a home to sell. We're expanding our farm. Every year we grow more oysters, process more oysters. We need to find a place to sell those. We have another expansion planned this year in Rustico.''

It's not just finding new customers and markets. It's equally important to maintain existing relationships. Shows like this one brings everyone face to face.

"It's also good to meet our distributors in the U.S. It's a chance to reconnect with them, basically to put a face to the name and make sure we're doing everything we can to help them, (to find out) if there's any issues that we have, anything we need to discuss. It gives us a chance to do that.''

The expo wraps up today.