June 28, 2019
TAKING THE LEAP
Carla and David Annand are ambitious. They launched Annand Clams in 2013 in an 800-square-foot outbuilding in their yard when David discovered a niche market for the shucked clams he fished and sold to customers. A year later, they'd already expanded into an 8,000-square-foot CFIA-approved facility in Conway, P.E.I., to meet the demand for their packaged bar clam meat and dramatically increase production on a number of different fronts.
“David is driven to grow," says Carla. “It was a big risk in the beginning, but now we're expanding production of raw bar clams, clam meat, bottled bar clams, breaded bar clams, lobster meat and tails, and fish cakes. BioFoodTech developed the thermal process to stabilize our bottled clams, and Mickey Rose of MR Seafoods promoted our fish cakes. David's downstairs now, handling production, and I'm upstairs doing the admin work."
Through Food Island Partnership's Food Propel program, the couple is poised to take the next step in the company's evolution. "Food Propel's workshops helped us look at the future," says Carla. "How far to go and how to approach it. When we first started, we weren't sure how it would help, but we quickly realized the quality of the mentors and the relationships we've been building are paying off with the marketing and sales expertise we need to move forward."
Continuing to build markets in Canada and the U.S., including a long-term relationship with Sobeys, the company intends to expand from 25 pallets totalling 150,000 fishcakes annually to 300 pallets within the next five years. Currently Atlantic Canada's only bar clam processors, the Annands are keen to shape the commercial potential of P.E.I.'s shellfish resources, with other value-added products including a bar clam tart, clams on the half-shell, and chowder.
What gives them particular satisfaction is the employment they're providing in western P.E.I. “It’s nice to develop new products and jobs for yourself and your family," says David, “but it’s very special to create jobs for people in the community. My father was a fisher here, and we're continuing the family name. When we are in full production, we employ fifty people all the way from Summerside to Tignish.”
By Magner Ink (www.magnerink.com). This is one in a series of articles on the P.E.I. Food Cluster.