Challenge: Enhancing oyster processing for faster and greater production
Solution: Finding new ways of modernizing – and thinking about – business
When Luc Léger launched his company, J&S Oysters, in 2014, he sank 33 cages that year in Cocagne Harbour. In 2017, that number reached 1,520. Modernization has always been central to the New Brunswick company’s increasing success.
In the oyster harvesting sector, work is often done the traditional way, says Luc, who first started in the industry 11 years ago. However, he notes, advances in technology and equipment can significantly enhance processes and production.
Shortly after Luc purchased his 20-acre production site, he co-purchased equipment that can take photos of 11,000 oysters an hour. “The images are essential,” notes Luc, who uses them to track the growth of the oysters. “Size determines cost.”
Innovation is also inherent in the way J&S Oysters operates to properly compete in this fast-growing industry. There are around 47 oyster cultivators in southeast New Brunswick and differentiation is essential. Many of the operators sell their oysters only once a year, but by rotating his cages, Luc sells in both the spring and the fall.
In 2017, with ACOA’s help, Luc purchased additional aquaculture equipment including Vexar bags, OysterGro cages, buoys, collectors, and a depth sounder. “I couldn’t have made it without ACOA’s help. It enabled me to grow more quickly,” says Luc, whose company currently has five employees.
The expansion project will enable the addition of 400 cages, and it will help increase annual production to approximately one million market-ready oysters with annual sales of $400,000. Recently, Luc also purchased his own boat, and plans are already in the works for a new building to house equipment and to be more efficient.
“Good practice is good equipment,” says Luc. “You can work better with better tools.”
Accessing financial capital is something the Government of Canada recognizes as critical to building, growing, and scaling a business. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is helping J&S Oysters reach their goals quickly. Recent investments of just under $100,000 have enabled the company to purchase new equipment, which will keep it at the forefront of a competitive sector.
J&S Oysters is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa.