December 3, 2018
Fond Memories, Lucrative Markets
“Many of my fondest memories are being on the water working with oysters,” says Jacob Dockendorff, President of Atlantic Shellfish Products Inc. "Looking at a crop, knowing I helped grow it, wondering how to improve, it doesn't get better than that."
The company, managed with his sister Cindy, has harvested oysters and quahogs since 1997, farming 12 to 20 million oysters annually. Considering it takes four years to grow an oyster on the water's surface, and six years on the bottom, that's quite an achievement. “We add nothing to the oyster during processing, so our product is organic, totally natural. It's what consumers want,” says Dockendorff. With the rapid growth of food tourism in P.E.I., new customers are increasely turning up at his facility. "We don't advertise. People find you."
Atlantic Shellfish Products was recently selected to participate within Food Island Partnership’s inaugural Food Propel program designed to help Island businesses advance through an intensive one-year accelerator program. It features a dedicated mentor team, workshops, network and learning assistance, a growth fund, and targeted market investigation. “It's enabling us to take that important next step in our growth,” says Dockendorff.
With the assistance of Food Propel, Atlantic Shellfish Products is intent on growing its business into exciting and lucrative new markets. “We're looking at adding another production line and doubling our processing capacity to be ready to expand into North America, Europe and China. Markets are growing year over year by 50 percent. Canada’s Food Island has promoted the fact that everything we grow in P.E.I. -- potatoes, beef, oysters -- is top quality. That makes it easy to sell our products."
Dockendorff sees Food Propel as a great fit for other companies like his. “Food Island Partnership already offered Food Xcel for aspiring food entrepreneurs, but this new program gives more established businesses a helping hand to take their dreams to the next level. We're particularly excited by our mentors -- experts from many backgrounds across the Maritimes. It makes me proud to know we're part of reputation building for P.E.I."
By Magner Ink (www.magnerink.com). This is one in a series of articles on the P.E.I. Food Cluster.