NEGUAC (GNB) – La Maison BeauSoleil, a Neguac-based oyster processor, is investing in new technology to clean and package fresh oysters with the help of nearly $800,000 from the federal and provincial governments.

“Shellfish aquaculture represents a unique economic development opportunity for New Brunswick,” said Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “The fish and seafood sectors are important economic drivers and innovative processors like La Maison BeauSoleil are valuable contributors to our coastal and rural communities.”

The improvements will help increase processing capacity to meet the anticipated expansion of the industry, maximize the economic value of the product, and create a better working environment for employees and more efficient operations.

“La Maison BeauSoleil is growing its market and making a name for itself, and our region, as global leaders in the clean, sustainable production of cultured oysters,” said Miramichi-Grand Lake MP Pat Finnigan. “Our government’s support through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is helping this company upgrade its operations and introduce new technology and automated processes to meet rapidly growing domestic and international demand, while also creating jobs.”

Finnigan attended for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, who is also the minister responsible for ACOA.

The company currently employs more than 30 people and purchases from dozens of suppliers.

“La Maison BeauSoleil oysters are not only appreciated by local residents, but also in the United States, and now in Chinese markets where we have already set up distribution networks,” said Amédée Savoie, general manager. “Now, with robotically automated production, we will be able to reach other markets such as in Europe and the Middle East. What’s more, we will not only be able to maintain existing jobs with La Maison BeauSoleil, but will be able to add more jobs for workers in specialized fields.”

The federal government is contributing $500,000 to the project while the provincial government is investing almost $300,000 through the Northern New Brunswick Economic Development and Innovation Fund.

The company is also receiving $60,000 from the federal government to hire a marketing consultant specializing in Asian markets to develop a marketing plan aimed at increasing the company’s exports to China and Hong Kong. The federal funds for both projects are being provided through ACOA’s Business Development Program.

The New Brunswick Shellfish Aquaculture Development Strategy 2017-2021 calls for an annual increase of 10 per cent in the number of oysters produced. That growth would represent $12 million in sales, and $6.4 million in exports in 2021.