Feasting on the catch of the day is a quintessential experience for both tourists and locals of Canada’s west coast. But what happens when the price point is out of reach for residents of communities where seafood is harvested?
He believes in the importance of supporting local people and making quality, affordable seafood and shellfish available to them. Since opening the facility in late August 2020, Canadian Seafood Processing has started exporting to the USA and Singapore. The expansion of exports also supports the local economy, allowing Verbrugge to offer better pricing to local markets.
Export Navigator played a key role in the company’s success. Here’s how they did it, together:
He and his advisor developed a plan for scale-up and export oysters.
At the same time the oyster company began growing, the Port Alberni Port Authority was working to expand the local seafood sector. It had renovated a former fish processing plant on the waterfront to create a new facility called the Port Alberni Food Hub, with space for four seafood processing tenants. Verbrugge moved in and, with the room and capacity to branch out, he opened Canadian Seafood Processing.
“Grant funding from the province’s ‘Feed B.C.’ program made it possible to set-up a certified, licensed facility with freezer storage and live tanks for shellfish and crab,” says Verbrugge. “We are now ramping up for the season, hoping to hire up to 15 employees.”
To keep quality high and prices affordable, Verbrugge knew he needed to find export markets to complement local sales.
“Working with our Export Navigator advisor, we developed a phased approach to expansion, including increasing production capabilities and infrastructure investment,” says Verbrugge. “We have gained valuable connections to customers and have access to an Export Advisor who can help answer questions and point us in the direction.”
The company’s $50,000 in export sales is a strong indicator of the growth potential for both Canadian Seafood Processing and the local economy. It all started with a solid plan and the support of Export Navigator.
“We joined Export Navigator because we knew we needed to ramp up the scale of our business in order to compete in today’s market,” says Verbrugge. “Export Navigator helped us to formulate a plan to realize where we are today. We highly recommend the program to anyone who is looking to get ‘on paper’ their five-year plan.”