Challenge: Remaining competitive in a growing global market
Solution: Continued commitment to innovation
The next time you bite into your frozen TV dinner you might be consuming some of the food-based gelatin products produced by Shelburne Nova Scotia-based Kenney & Ross.
Kenney & Ross (K&R) is a manufacturer and international exporter of high quality gelatin and collagen products made from wild caught fish species. The company uses fish skins from species such as cod and haddock to produce food, pharmaceutical and technical grade fish gelatin.
Started in 1945, the company was founded by two entrepreneurs who saw opportunity to develop products from marine by-products coming from the fish processing industry in Nova Scotia. In the early days, the company developed products like cod liver oil and cat food. In the 1960s, it was asked to make a fish gelatin to be used in the manufacturing of colour TV picture tubes.
That commitment to innovation has been the backbone of the company ever since. Current General Manager and VP Jody Crook says the biggest challenge for K&R remains being competitive in a growing global market. "We have a lot of competition from Europe and Asia, says Crook. Many companies around the world are producing animal gelatin with lower costs of production."
Crook credits the company's continued success to its continued commitment to R&D.
"We continue today with the approach that was used when the company started almost 80 years ago – always striving to increase the quality of our products through innovation," explains Crook.
That commitment means the company conducts research on site which has led to the development of key products, including the high molecular weight gelatin – a food industry product that only K&R produces. The company now ships to over 30 countries worldwide and exports 99% of its production.
"While being a smaller player on the global market, we've been able to find our niche thanks to the natural products we have access to and our commitment to innovation," says Crook.
Crook says another key to remaining competitive has been expansion, growth and capital investment. He adds that continued investment wouldn't have been as easy without government partnerships. "Those partnerships have allowed the company to continue to innovate and grow while still investing in R&D."
K&R is currently working on a couple of products that it hopes to market in the near future. Crook explains they will always be looking for new opportunities and products because it's now built into their corporate culture. "Our people understand that status quo does not work. We've been able to continue to move forward because our employees understand what it takes and bring forward the initiative to make it happen."
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 K&R upgrade its wastewater infrastructure to meet environmental standards. An investment of $1 million will go toward the construction of a concrete equalization tank, a wastewater treatment plant building to house new process equipment, and other modifications to existing infrastructure or additions to accommodate these changes.
Kenney & Ross 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.