Nanaimo-based cannery buys North Delta’s Raincoast Trading
VANCOUVER — A Nanaimo-based cannery has bought Raincoast Trading, a sustainable canned seafood company based in North Delta.
St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse, which has canned Raincoast’s tuna and salmon for more than 15 years, will own the company as of January 1.
“Raincoast Trading was one of our largest customers … so it’s a really good fit for us,” said St. Jean’s president Gerard St. Jean. “Now that we’ve got Raincoast’s marketing arm and brand manager Kim Stockburn, it gives us distribution for our products right across Canada and the United States.”
With the deal, St. Jean’s hopes to double their sales to $12 to $14 million in the next two or three years, St. Jean said. He said all of the Raincoast employees will be kept on after the deal, which will mean the company has a total of 100 to 115 employees.
“It’s a big jump for us, but it’s a really good fit,” St. Jean said. “It’s going to be really good; we work really well together and the Wick family is really great to deal with.”
Raincoast was founded and previously owned by North Delta Seafoods, which in turn is owned by Mike Wick and his brother. North Delta Seafoods will continue to supply fish to Raincoast Trading.
“We have had a positive relationship with St. Jean’s for more than a decade,” Wick said. “It is fitting that Raincoast is sold by one multi-generation B.C. fishing business family to another and represents the next stage of growth for Raincoast.”
Stockburn said Raincoast’s albacore tuna is all caught in B.C. by hook and line, which means other species are not harmed in the fishing process. She said Raincoast’s products never leave B.C. during their production and they are canned using only the fish, with no oil or water added.
St. Jean’s is the only tuna canning operation in Canada and they use a technique in which the tuna is fileted off the bone and goes into each can raw where it is single-cooked to preserve the fish’s natural oils. Conventional tuna is typically double-cooked and packed in water or oil, Stockburn said.
“It’s a local product — we’re keeping our processing here, and not overseas, which you don’t find very often, especially with tuna,” Stockburn said. “We understand that it is more expensive, but there are not only quality reasons, but most important is the health of the oceans.”
All of Raincoast’s products are Ocean Wise recommended, Stockburn said. Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium program designed to educate consumers about sustainable seafood. It recommends only products where the species is abundant and harvested in ways that don’t harm other aquatic life or habitats.
“Not all tuna is considered a good choice, but what they do consider a good choice is hook and line caught albacore tuna out of the Pacific,” Stockburn said.
“North Delta Seafood saw that Raincoast is growing and growing and they’re not able to focus on it as much as they wanted to, so it seemed a better fit with St. Jean’s who are in the tuna canning processing business and very like-minded with Raincoast,” Stockburn said.
Raincoast seafood is available at natural food stores across the country, as well as at Superstore, in their natural food section, and at IGA.
St. Jean said one of his company’s goals is to use Raincoast’s established product distribution networks to get some of their products, such as the Nikos line of sauces and marinades or their smoked oysters, into grocery stores.
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