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Food and Beverage Focus Group Notes

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Food and Beverage Focus Group

Holiday Inn Express

June 1, 2016

Participants

  • Mitch Cobb, Upstreet Brewing
  • Tyson MacInnis, Food Island Partnership | Cavendish Maples | Pizza Delight Cavendish | Lucky Fox Potato Chips
  • Chris Jones, Tourism PEI
  • Tracey Singleton, VMG | Cavendish Bosom Buddies Cottages and Suites
  • Robert Godfrey, PEI Federation of Agriculture
  • Steven Larkin, Lobster on the Wharf
  • Melainie, PEI Fisherman’s Association

Future Vision for Tourism on Prince Edward Island

  • We need to paint a picture of prosperity and opportunity for tourism. It offers prosperity as one of the Island’s top’s industries.  It is deemed as more of a seasonal part time business. Doesn’t seem to get the recognition it deserves as a major contributor to the provincial economy. The future should include expansion, more tourism entrepreneurs, more full time employment, more authentic experiences, more PEI products. Tourism needs to be presented as more than a 2 month season and that tourism has the potential to contribute to a healthy labour force.
  • The last few seasons have been great for the Island tourism industry. Much of this can be attributed to the low US dollar and gas. There is a need to continue to invest in product and marketing to ensure continued growth or maintenance once the US dollar and gas return to normal.
  • We should be working in growth mode. The Island lobster population is exploding which means we need to create demand. We need to tie lobster and other product exports back to the PEI experience. We need to tell more stories about the food and the destination.
  • It is important to get PEI products off-Island. Consideration needs to be given to how tourism can drive exports. Tourism exposes people to the products when they are here which has the ability to drive future exports. We need to make these visitors brand ambassadors and consumers of the products after they return home.
  • There is a lot of confusion between brands especially Fall Flavours | PEI Flavours. There is a sense that Canada’s Food Island can be embraced by producers as well as the tourism industry. Canada’s Food Island connects tourism and food.
  • There needs to be emphasis placed on developing new food products and not just experiences. The ideal scenario is that producers will start to do both.
  • There is a real opportunity to tie agriculture/fisheries and tourism.
  • In order to be “Canada’s Food Island” we need to be able to get the fresh products to all parts of the Island and to provide consistency. As well, product clustering is very important to building this brand.
  • There needs to be constant focus placed on authenticity and more local as part of the tourism product.

Barriers to Growth

  • Small food companies that are starting up have always been classified as retail, manufacturing or tourism. These companies need to be encouraged to consider all aspects to maximize potential.
  • Financing and money is always cited as a barrier to entry. There may be opportunities to build facilities that incorporate manufacturing, retail and tourism. Blue Mountain Station in Washington is an example of a manufacturing facility with retail space. This allows startups to reduce the cost on entry and creates connections to tourism.
  • Clustering products to have manufacturing, experience and retail but have more producers located close together.

Marketing

  • PEI is more than the gentle Island. It’s more hip, happening and trendy. The Island offers what people want culture, restaurants, local and fresh products, authentic experiences.
  • There is a real movement toward multigenerational travel. The Island has the ability to offer something for the entire family. The Island is where the entire family may come to reconnect. However, each family member is looking for different experiences.
  • The Gentle Island is stale. It does not reflect what Millennials and Baby Boomers are looking for in experiences.Marketing efforts need to capitalize on the brand reputation of PEI Potatoes, Mussels, Oysters, Lobster etc.
  • Agriculture and tourism are industries #1 and #2. Agriculture, tourism and fisheries need to work more together. The State of Vermont is an example of how food and tourism are used together to brand the experience. Prince Edward County is another example of this. The end result is that you don’t know whether they are promoting the food or the destination because it’s seamless.
  • Canada’s Food Island is a big promise. The Island has back up this promise. It has to be more than a slogan. It’s important to be able to support and back this up with reputation, quality products, accessible experiences, critical mass of products etc.
  • There is a sense that when it comes to food, PEI can strive to be best in the world.
  • People pride themselves on being foodies. PEI needs to offer new and unique experiences to cater to these foodies (eg. Food Rave, Underground late night parties, discovering food off the beaten track). This can be complimented by the Island’s amazing music scene.
  • Multigenerational travel is and emerging trend. PEI also needs to be multi-dimensional and cater to the whole family.

Regional Groups

  • It was noted that regional tourism associations are starting to focus on the food tourism products and experiences in their area. More needs to be done to showcase new food businesses to further connect the products to tourism.
  • There is concern that regional tourism groups have taken people away from the provincial industry association.
  • There appears to be a disconnect and the need for more role clarity between Tourism PEI, TIAPEI and the regional and sectoral groups.
  • It was believed that the RTA’s should be focused on product development.