A visit to PEI Juice Works in Alberton
by Peggy Miles
"I found my thrill, on Blueberry Hill…” I couldn’t help humming as I drove into the Bloomfield Industrial Park near Alberton. I was stopping in to visit the folks at PEI Juice Works. They make 100% pure wild blueberry juice products, made without any added water, sugar or preservatives; one pound of wild blueberries is used to produce every 375 ml bottle of juice!
The staff greeted me as I stepped into their baby blue office. Attached to the administrative space is the production plant where juice is bottled and shipped to locations across PEI, Canada and around the world.
Hailed as a powerful antioxidant, blueberries are known to help with a variety of chronic diseases and the company advises people drink 2 ounces of their juice daily. Feedback indicates that consumers appreciate the taste and that the juice leaves them feeling better about their health.
The company is owned by 4 shareholders—individuals from the West Prince area who were seeking to diversify their existing agricultural operations. They were exposed to an ancient European juicing process, perfected by a Mennonite family in Eastern Europe.
The shareholders took their concept to Bio | Food | Tech (PEI Food Technology Centre) in Charlottetown, which specializes in helping entrepreneurs develop a process which will take a new product from kitchen to commercial-scale. “The shareholders worked with scientists to refine the taste, consistency and actual process of making the product,” say company representatives. The blend is approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as well as HACCP (a food safety organization).
The product line includes three different juice products: Wild Blueberry and Tart Cherry, Wild Blueberry and Rhubarb, and 100% Pure Wild Blueberry.
There are approximately 125 wild blueberry growers on PEI, many of whom supply their fruit to PEI Juice Works; the company imports from Oxford, Nova Scotia when necessary. The plant has the capacity to produce 200,000 bottles of juice each year, some of which is sold on PEI at health food stores, pharmacies, Atlantic Co-op stores and at the Summerside Superstore. Products are also sold throughout Atlantic Canada at places such as Pete’s Frootique.
PEI Juice Works is experiencing success in the export market, having made valuable contacts on trade missions to Asia. The company says that the provincial government has been helpful in providing advice related to labeling, shipping and pricing for the international market. The business further credits agencies such as ACOA and the PEI ADAPT Council with helping the business succeed.
Business representatives are pleased to be supporting local farmers, as well as contributing to job creation in the West Prince area.
PEI Juice Works wants to strengthen its presence in the local market while developing new export channels. Visit their website for recipes: at peijuiceworks.ca or find their sampling station at local festivals and grocery stores.