Hardy Buoys Featured in Business Examiner For Developing Innovative Shelf-Stable Products
HARDY BUOYS DEVELOPS INNOVATIVE SHELF STABLE PRODUCTS
PORT HARDY COMPANY’S SMOKED SALMON NOW HAS A ONE YEAR SHELF LIFE, WITHOUT REFRIGERATION
Port Hardy – Hardy Buoys has been a busy operation for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused slowdown that provided valuable downtime to help the company reposition itself for the future.
Bruce and Carol Dirom, who opened the fish processing and smoking operation 26 years ago, used the three-week shutdown time to develop
A new ‘shelf-stable’ product hat could revolutionize their business for years to come.
“This is a game changer for us. This smoked salmon product does not require refrigeration, and it has a one year shelf life,” says Bruce, adding their Candied Salmon Jerky comes in three flavors, original, maple and garlic/pepper, while their traditional hot-smoked candied salmon nuggets come in several other flavours.
There are other shelf stable products still in the research and development stage that they plan to add to their newly launched online shopping platform later in 2021, including Salmon Pepperoni Stix.
“We have lab reports to prove the science for how this process is done, and we’re continually monitoring the product with the lab,” Bruce adds.
For the past three years, Hardy Buoys was producing salmon jerky under the Oregon-based company’s brand, but once COVID-19 hit they were directed to stop production immediately because the company needed to concentrate on their U.S. seafood brand interests.
Dirom says although the sudden loss of revenue stream was very challenging for Hardy Buoys, the production and product experience gained gave them the confidence and courage to move forward with the product under their own brand.
“It is far too expensive to ship product that is perishable,” Dirom notes. “Now, our new product goes into a pouch with an oxygen absorber that basically consumes any oxygen left in the bag, making the product non-perishable. He adds that although the process is fairly labour intensive, they are researching packing equipment that will allow them to produce more without adding much more staff. They currently have 40 employees.
Hardy Buoys is launching a shopping centre website this November that further opens up the Canadian market, and also provides an open door to shipping product into the United States.
It’s the latest metamorphosis for the company, which started out making candied smoked salmon nuggets, moved into processing fish and wholesaling products to other companies to use under their own labels. An overly competitive western Canadian market nudged the original Hardy Buoys brand into the background.
“This is our real way to take our own brand back into the marketplace,” he states. “We know this product is excellent.”
Hardy Buoys custom processing salmon, black cod, and albacore tuna, and they produce their own smoked products mainly with Atlantic farmed salmon from local Mowi Canada West farms.
“We rely on farmed salmon,” he states. “It’s economical because we can get it fresh daily, and it’s a reliable source, 12 months a year.”
Mowi helped get Hardy Buoys operational again during the early days of the COVID pandemic.
“Mowi came to us and asked if we could produce portions for the food banks they were supplying on the island, all the way downs to Nanaimo,” Dirom notes. “That was enough to get our company back up and running, starting with 12 people. It’s a good feeling to know Mowi is continuing to support the food bank, because protein is so important.”
Over the past year, an independent buyer based in Nanaimo has been taking Hardy Buoys product and selling it online through Amazon, and Dirom says they’ve strengthened that relationship and are anticipating continued growth.