From The Cape Breton Post…
NEILS HARBOUR – Victoria Co-operative Fisheries in Neils Harbour marked 60 years in business by securing $2.2 million in sales during a trade mission to Hong Kong and Shanghai in recent days.
© Submitted photo
“There is further business pending that certainly will be in the million-dollar range or more — there is a heck of an opportunity here,” said Victoria Co-operative Fisheries general manager Osborne Burke, during a telephone interview Monday from Shanghai.
Premier Stephen McNeil led a Nova Scotia business delegation to Asia last week and Victoria Co-operative Fisheries was one of numerous Nova Scotia companies which participated in the trade mission.
Burke was in Shanghai on Monday to follow up with a customer who travelled to Neils Harbour a few months ago for meetings.
“We are competing in a global market and when you have the premier and fisheries minister in the room being introduced to potential customers, that means a lot in the Asian community,” Burke said.
“It takes time and effort and you are a long distance from home. But, it makes a big difference being face to face with a customer who has been provided with samples of our quality products.”
Burke added that building relationships comes first, and business comes second.
“When you are invited to their home, meet their family and sit down to dinner, that says a lot about the relationship we built with this company and the owner in the past year,” he said. “It has really worked out well for us and bodes well for the future.”
Burke said Victoria Fisheries Co-operative plans to continue to sell to markets in the United States.
“At the same time, our focus is shifting some of that flow into the Asian market. Especially now while the Asian market is quite interested in our product and the province of Nova Scotia is being very supportive.”
Burke plans to attend a trade mission in November in Asia to follow up on contacts made during this trip.
“There is tremendous opportunity for seafood in Asia. Canada and Nova Scotia are well known for quality products and it makes it easier to sell,” Burke said. “It’s about quality, that’s what the customer is looking for in a product.”
Victoria Co-operative Fisheries has established an exclusive arrangement with its customer in Hong Kong.
“We are doing the same here in Shanghai, the sheer volume that several customers can handle is unbelievable.”
About the Victoria Co-operative Fisheries:
• Purchases a variety of seafood from more than 140 inshore commercial fishing vessels, including lobster, snow crab, halibut and mackerel.
• Majority of product is purchased from vessels that are locally owned and operated by co-op members.
• Employs as many as 125 people in peak periods.
• Contributes approximately $2 million in payroll to the local economy.
• Governed by an 11-member board of directors.
• Fish harvesters make up 100 per cent of the ownership of the co-operative.