Marilyn Hutchinson, Director of Indigenous & Community Relations (left) and Linda Sams, Sustainable Development Director for Cermaq Canada, hold cans of salmon in Campbell River, BC.
CAMPBELL RIVER, BC — Today the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) announced a new national salmon donation initiative with Food Banks Canada to feed Canadian families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Together Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC are donating 60,000 pounds of salmon to Food Banks Canada’s national hamper distribution initiative to assist with the demands on food banks due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Protein donations are hard to come by, especially since COVID-19, where protein has become short in supply. Shelf-stable healthy protein is highly desired by food banks, but often the least donated because it’s expensive,” says Chris Hatch, Chief Executive Officer for Food Banks Canada.
Food banks have seen an increased demand since COVID-19 and expect it to last beyond the pandemic as the economy slowly bounces back.
“We knew we had to find a way to make something happen, and we would like to thank both Grieg and Cermaq for stepping up and filling this need,” says John Paul Fraser, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. “Canned salmon isn’t a product we normally produce, so this is truly a tailor-made product for food banks.”
From Provincial to a National Level
In April, Cermaq and Grieg partnered with Food Banks BC to produce and distribute 86,000 cans of salmon across the province. Aquatrans donated costs to transport the fish to St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse in Nanaimo and then to the five major food bank hubs across the province. The donation was so well received that Food Banks Canada approached BCSFA to partner for a national donation of canned salmon.
“When we saw the BC salmon farmers’ generous donation to Food Banks BC in April, we reached out to BCSFA to see if we could work together on a national project,” says Hatch.
Mowi Canada West began distributing one-pound portions of Atlantic salmon to food banks in Campbell River and Port Hardy in early April, donating 1,000 pounds a week. They have to date donated 10,000 lbs of salmon portions, and partnered with a Port Hardy company, Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish, to produce 2,000 packs of salmon jerky. Mowi will continue this contribution for the length of the pandemic.
Salmon farmers step up for a second time
After the canned salmon was distributed throughout the province, BCSFA was approached by Food Banks Canada to participate in their national hamper distribution imitative to assist in the increased demand on food banks during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The partnership with Food Banks Canada includes salmon donated by Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC with processing and canning costs covered in part via an investment through the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund emergency funding.
“When Food Banks Canada reached out to the BC Salmon Farmers Association to participate in this national initiative, there was no doubt that Grieg would contribute canned salmon again, alongside our friends at Cermaq,” says Rocky Boschman, Managing Director of Grieg Seafood BC.
“We know how hard people have been hit during this pandemic, so getting healthy, canned salmon to homes across the country is one thing we can do as salmon farmers to help.”
Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC both committed to donating 60,000lbs of Atlantic salmon, which would produce contents of approximately 120,000 cans in total.
Due to the pandemic many food banks shifted their distribution towards pre-packaged, shelf-stable foods that require less volunteer or client handling of products. Therefore, salmon farmers teamed up with St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse once again to can their fresh B.C. farm-raised Atlantic salmon.
“This pandemic has affected us all, and we are proud of the way Canadians have come together as a nation to support each other. We are pleased to be able to share our healthy, sustainably grown and harvested salmon for families and individuals across Canada to help ensure they have access to nutritious, Canadian grown food,” says David Kiemele, Managing Director for Cermaq Canada.
“We would like to thank the BC Salmon Farmers Association and Food Bank Canada for organizing the donation, and Nuu-chah-nulth Seafoods, the owners of St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse, for canning our salmon to ensure it could be easily shared and distributed.”
Aquatrans Distributors Inc. has donated their trucking costs to transport the product within BC. “It is with great pride that Aquatrans is taking part in the generous donation from Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC to feed those in need in Canada,” says Ryan Brush, General Manager of Aquatrans. “The health qualities from Salmon are undisputed being loaded with protein and omegas. There is no better feeling than helping fellow Canadians on a large scale.”
While, Seaspan Ferries Corp has donated their ferry costs to help move the cans off Vancouver Island, “Seaspan Ferries is proud to support Aquatrans and BC salmon farmers’ with the donation of multiple ferry drop trailer services between SFC’s Duke Point Terminal and Tilbury on the Lower Mainland,” says Doug Jesson, Commercial Manager for Lower Mainland of Seaspan Ferries Corp.
“We anticipate that this tremendous kind act by all concerned will be well received by the Food Banks Canada’s food hamper program, and on behalf of Seaspan Group we are pleased to be a part of the event.”
Together, with the salmon farmers previous donations, this brings total salmon donations equivalent to over half a million meals to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are truly thankful to the BC salmon farmers’ for answering our call,” says Hatch. “This donation will feed thousands of Canadians in need this summer.”
Marilyn Hutchinson shows off some of Grieg’s canned salmon, which were designed specifically for this Food Banks Canada initiative.
- In April, BC salmon farmers partnered with Food Banks BC to produce and distribute 86,000 cans of salmon across the province.
- Out of this initial canned salmon donation, Cermaq supplied 62,000 cans, and Grieg donated 24,000.
- In this new donation, the salmon donated by Grieg and Cermaq will be distributed to food banks across the country starting at the end of June.
- Aquatrans Distributors Inc and Seaspan Ferries Corp are donating transportation costs
- The processing and canning costs are covered in part via an investment through the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund emergency funding
- Food Banks Canada supports a unique network of over 3,000 food related organizations in every province and territory.
- Food Banks Canada typically supports about 800,000 Canadians each month.
- More than one-third of food bank recipients are under 18 years old.
- Properly stored, canned salmon has a shelf life of three to five years.
- Mowi Canada West has committed to continue its weekly donations of 1,000lbs of salmon portions to food banks in Campbell River and Port Hardy for the length of the COVID-19 crisis. To date Mowi has donated 10,000lbs of salmon portions and 2,000 packs of salmon jerky (processed and packaged by Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc).