Longing for chicken haddie leads P.E.I. woman into seafood canning business

·2 min read

A P.E.I.-born chef has launched a seafood canning business that is helping keep workers at an Island lobster-processing plant employed past the traditional season.

Charlotte Langley lives and works in Toronto now, but she was born and raised in Summerside.

She told Laura Chapin of CBC's Island Morning that the lightbulb that led to the business was illuminated a few years back after she couldn't find any canned chicken haddie. That is a blend of whitefish used for chowder and fishcakes, which she calls "comfort food from home."

Babineau Fisheries told her they don't produce it anymore, leading her to try to make some herself.

"So I started experimenting with the art and history and heritage of canned food."

Experienced already in the preparation and sale of seafood, Langley eventually co-founded the business Scout Canning, which launched in September.

Change of focus due to pandemic

The original plan was to market the products direct to food services: restaurants, cafés, oyster bars looking to branch out into other types of seafood dishes, or "people who have seacuterie already."

Canned seafood has become more popular since the pandemic started. — Charlotte Langley

But COVID-19 meant a pivot in focus, to the direct-to-consumer market.

"Canned seafood has become more popular since the pandemic started," she said. "We've been actually quite overwhelmed with the support."

P.E.I. mussels, Ontario rainbow trout and lobster are being canned for Scout at Acadian Supreme in Abram-Village, P.E.I. Langley said they were looking for a small company that "has the ability to grow with us."

That means 30 workers who are usually laid off after the spring and fall lobster processing season are getting extra weeks of work.

"Yeah, they're busy!"

Products now on back order

Demand has been so high for Scout products they're currently on back order, but Langley told Island Morning that a shipment from P.E.I. is expected by the end of this week. "Everyone will have their products for Christmas, so that's really reassuring."

They also have Pacific seafood processed by a B.C. plant to cut down on the distance West Coast seafood has to be transported before processing.

"It sort of is a nice little environmental touch."

There aren't any Island locations selling Scout seafood at the moment, but Langley said she's working to change that.

"I do think it's completely silly that it's not there," she said with a laugh, speculating that Atlantic-born people have more access to fresh product and may not be as open to a high-end canned alternative.

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