MAPLE RIDGE - Naturally Homegrown Foods Limited will promote their line of B.C. grown and hand-cooked potato chips with the help of $100,000 in funding from the B.C. government's Buy Local program.
Owners Pete Schouten and Wes Heppell are fourth generation farmers in Maple Ridge where their 600-acre farm is home to the B.C. potatoes used in making Hardbite chips. With growing costs associated with transporting food to markets, they feel it is vital to build their brand locally and maximize market share in the B.C. marketplace.
The Hardbite brand currently provides work for eight employees and has a unique product profile as it utilizes local ingredients from local growers. The Buy Local funding will be used to increase awareness for Hardbite potato chips using strategies such as brand development, social media and promotions. They also wish to increase distribution of their products through local retailers and foodservice outlets.
The Buy Local program offers successful applicants matching funds up to $100,000 to launch or expand local food marketing campaigns.
Building the local market for B.C. foods is a key commitment of government's Agrifoods Strategy, a component of the B.C. Jobs Plan, to lead the agrifoods sector growth into a $14-billion-a-year industry by 2017.
The provincial government's Buy Local program is administered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.
Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick -
"Food and beverage processing is the largest manufacturing industry in the province, generating sales of $7.5 billion in B.C. and employing over 18 per cent of the province's manufacturing workforce. Hardbite chips are not only produced locally, they're grown locally as well. You can't get more homegrown than that."
Naturally Homegrown Foods Ltd., president Kirk Homenick -
"The Hardbite brand already has a grass-roots following of loyal consumers and the product's profile as being local has broad appeal. The Buy Local funding will help us to establish core brand values for Hardbite, which we want to leverage to bring new products to market and increase demand for potato and other agrifoods-based products."
Hardbite produces potatoes using B.C. grown seed potatoes.
The Heppell family has been potato farming since 1920. They also produce corn, carrots, pumpkins, squash and parsnips on the 600-acre farm.
Mushrooms and potatoes were B.C.'s highest-value non-greenhouse vegetable crops in 2011 with 78,609 tonnes of potatoes being produced that year.
B.C. Buy Local program: http://www.gov.bc.ca/agri/buylocal.html
Naturally Homegrown Foods Ltd.: www.hardbitechips.com
Keep up to date on the latest in B.C. foods and beverages: https://www.facebook.com/FoodsBC
Ministry of Agriculture
Naturally Homegrown Foods Ltd.