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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: First Nation inks exclusive aquaculture deal with Thrifty Foods  (อ่าน 3154 ครั้ง)
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« เมื่อ: กรกฎาคม 25, 2010, 07:19:32 PM »

First Nation inks exclusive aquaculture deal with Thrifty Foods

Carla Wilson

The K'ómoks First Nation is stepping up its shellfish aquaculture business by striking an exclusive agreement to supply its Komo Gway-brand beach-raised oysters and clams to Thrifty Foods.

This move sees Pentlatch Seafood Ltd., wholly owned by the K'ómoks band in the Comox Valley, move into the Canadian market. It already sells to the U.S., mainly on the west coast but with buyers as far away as New York.

"We are one of the leading First Nations in shellfish aquaculture," Richard Hardy, Pentlatch general manager, said yesterday. "This is a unique moment for our First Nation, the aquaculture industry and food retailers in Canada."

The agreement with Thrifty Foods means Pentlatch's oysters and clams will be sold in the chain's 23 stores on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

Products are being launched tomorrow, starting with First Nation dances at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. at the Admirals Walk Thrifty Foods, along with a cooking demonstration. A Courtenay launch takes place Thursday at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., and on Friday at the Campbell River Thrifty Foods' store at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Shellfish aquaculture -- among the band's traditions -- is one of several economic initiatives by the band, with three reserves and a membership of close to 300. Others include forestry, a campground and an art gallery.

Within B.C., virtually the entire commercial harvest of oysters is farmed while commercial culture of clams is steadily increasing, the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association said on its website. "The wholesale value of the industry in 2000 was approximately $20 million. While production values are steadily increasing, shellfish farming has not come anywhere near reaching its potential as a key economic driver for coastal communities," it said.

A B.C. Ministry of Environment report said that total shellfish aquaculture in 2008 totalled 7,200 tonnes.

Pentlatch's aquaculture sites are spread over 64.3 hectares at seven locations. The payroll in the company's first six years totalled $2.4 million, Hardy said.

The First Nation is creating the "capacity to manage our marine resources within our traditional territory," he said.

Ideally, the company will be able to issue dividends to band members at some point in the future, Hardy said.

Pentlatch ships between 12,000 and 15,000 dozen oysters, plus between 7,000 and 1,200 pounds of clams each month to the U.S., said Pentlatch marketer Daniel Rabu.
 
High-end restaurants in Victoria, Vancouver and Whistler are buying the product, but only Thrifty Foods will be carrying retail products in this province, he said.

"It is opening up the door," Rabu said. "Eventually you will see Komo Gway all across Canada."

"Oysters are going to be the new chicken wings -- that's our goal."

Komo Gway oysters are sold in the shell, to preserve their juice, and have plump, ivory-coloured meat, he said.
 
"You detect a note of sweet cucumber. That is what makes our oysters quite unique," Rabu said. Oyster beds are surrounded by eel grass, which imparts that flavour.

Dave Sherwood, Thrifty Foods seafood category manager, said the product is sustainable and completely local. It is grown, processed, packaged and delivered by Vancouver Island businesses.

Komo Gway oysters are extra-sweet, he said. "We plan on making this a real eating experience year-round."

Special lower prices for the oysters and clams will be announced tomorrow, he said.
 
Prior to that, the regular price for a dozen medium-sized oysters is $9.99 , or 89 cents each, and a dozen small are at $8.99. The small sized oysters are not sold individually. The regular price for a 1.5-pound bag of Manilla clams is $9.99.

Sherwood said Thrifty Foods and Pentlatch have a good relationship.

"I am amazed by their passion," he said.

 
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