Berry business leaders study Scandinavian industry
Labrador business leaders visited Norway, Finland and Sweden last month to learn the best ways to develop their wildberry industry. Pictured are (from left) Bradley Hancock, manager of Pure Labrador, Barbara Marshall, executive director of LSDC, Roxanne Notley, executive director of SADC and Sheila Downer, director of The Great Labrador Company. Submitted photo
The potential of the Labrador wildberry industry is no secret. Tapping that potential is the challange. To that end, representatives from Labrador Preserves, The Great Labrador Company, the Labrador Straits Development Corp. (LSDC) and the Southeastern Aurora Development Corp. (SADC) visited Scandinavian countries last month on a wildberry industry learning tour.
"It gave us a practical look at where this industry has been developed, because for us it's new and emerging," LSDC executive director Barbara Marshall said.
The Labrador group visited facilities and met delegations from research institutes and private company manufacturers in Tromso, Norway, Kuopio, Finland and Happaranda, Sweden.
The tour of these countries was first discussed during a recent conference in the Labrador Straits, which brought people from industry, research and government departments to discuss potential areas for development in Labrador's wildberry industry.
Since the tour, a committee has been formed to include development groups, government agencies and private business.
"So this is sort of like the next step; where do we move the industry forward?" Marshall said. "And sometimes in order to know the next step you actually have to go on the ground to where people have developed industries. It's not just about how do you move to the next level, but looking at all the elements that they considered in moving their industry forward."
Development work would include the research of harvesting, production, innovations and partnerships, all of which are at early stages in the region.
Sheila Downer, director for of The Great Labrador Company, said that, since the tour, the group has been preparing a report of recommendations that will help strengthen development priorities of local regional plans.
"This will lead to efforts to ensure the provincial agenda also supports this type of development for Labrador," Downer said.
"The potential for Labrador in this industry lies in the fact that it's new, it's an environmentally conscious industry, it's supportive of our tourism industry and it's conducive to the type of development that makes sense for rural regions. The potential for this industry is a match for Labrador's environment, its business expertise and its rural knowledge base."
"I think we have the unique product. Over there we talked about the whole idea of marketing Nordic or northern berries, because we're in a region of the world that is viewed as clean and pristine, and the land is pure and organic, no chemicals, and I think that's a great marketing tool," she said.
Downer said the tour was an important exercise because the group received first-hand experience from research institutes, development agencies and businesses on the challenges, opportunities and issues surrounding the wildberry industry.
"The individual components of industry development all play a critical role," she explained.
"This knowledge is valuable for Labrador as it moves toward further development of its strategies to become a leader in the development of a wildberry industry in Atlantic Canada. During the tour, we collected the best practices and discussed lessons learned that can easily and will surely be applied to the developments in this Province."
The Northern Pen