July 4, 2018
A Clear Vision of the Future
When Roland Larkin began raising turkeys on the family’s New Glasgow, P.E.I. farm, it was primarily for family and friends. Fast forward to today, sons Harvey and Paul and their wives Rosemary and Linda, have grown Larkin Bros into an ambitious farm-to-table operation which markets both whole and value-added poultry products to Island supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and corner stores.
“Since day one, our mission has been to create a high-quality local product,” says Paul Larkin. “Our poultry has always been grain fed without animal bi-products and medication and antibiotic free. That appeals to our consumers who know this is a healthier alternative.”
As the company’s plans expand and focus has shifted to increase its value-added processing, Larkin Bros. has worked with Food Island Partnership to collaborate with the Emergence Incubator, Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, and Bio Food Tech – all P.E.I. based – to generate a clear vision for its future. “We’ve toured facilities in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia to see their processing equipment and best practices, and worked with Canada’s Smartest Kitchen on packaging, formulations and nutritional content,” says Rosemary Larkin. “Food Island Partnership has been instrumental in connecting us with similar companies, funders and service providers.” The company is assessing food safety regulations and standards to bring it to HCAAP level of certification with the goal of growing its market share and sales potential on P.E.I. “Currently some 80-to-85 percent of turkey consumed on P.E.I. is imported, so there is a lot of opportunity,” says Linda Larkin.
In March, Larkin Bros. took over ownership of the processing facility in Crapaud and opened a small retail outlet there in May to accommodate its growing line of value-added poultry products including turkey breast; stuffed turkey thigh roasts; chicken and turkey burgers; a variety of sausages; and turkey meatballs. It markets 16 gluten-free poultry products. Larkin Bros. offers memberships to a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program which is popular with Island consumers interested in supporting local businesses and food producers. For the many small farmers who raise backyard flocks of turkeys, chickens and ducks, Larkin Bros. offers custom processing and sees this as an avenue that will grow.
“People want to buy local, and we are very aware of that,” says Harvey Larkin. “P.E.I. is a Food Island with no end to the innovative ideas and products we can develop to suit our customers’ needs. We’re constantly exploring new opportunities to enhance and expand our product line. The sky’s the limit.”
By Magner Ink (www.magnerink.com). This is one in a series of articles on the P.E.I. Food Cluster.