Success in Lunenburg: Terra Beata
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Beginning as a weekend and evening project, David and Evelyn Ernst saw Nova Scotia cranberries as a valued agricultural crop, but also an excuse to buy an excavator and build something from scratch.
Today, the original farm is still in operation and they receive product from twelve other farms in Atlantic Canada, for a total of over five million pounds of fruit per year.
Q: What factors have contributed to your success in Nova Scotia?
A: Working with others has proven to be the biggest key to Terra Beata’s success. We learned to grow cranberries because others in the industry have been willing to teach us. We learned to make products because consumers were willing to tell us what they wanted when we exhibited at the fall fair and attended farm markets. We learned to export cranberries because there is a real demand for cranberries all over the world, but they are mainly grown in North America.
Q: What do you consider will be key to your success going forward?
A: We continue to look for win-win opportunities. Currently we are looking to build a facility that would enhance the efficiency of our operations, and provide enhanced efficiency for others in the food processing industry. The key to success is to work together with others to build scale in what we do. It is no good for all businesses in our region to compete against each other. We need to find ways to compete with the rest of the world.
Q: What has been your biggest learning moment?
A: I have had many lessons: how it feels to be physically drained at the end of a hard day in the cold rain during planting or harvest, how it feels to have a customer declare bankruptcy, how it feels to have a valued employee decide that they would really rather work somewhere else, or how it feels to explain to your children that money is tight. On the other hand, there are times when things inexplicably come together: when every time we went to Europe for business we came home with more customers, when consumers tell us they really appreciate our products, when our employees are starting to wonder what they are going to do next week when an order comes in, and when I go into the processing facility and see that our employees, working together, have found ways to make things more efficient than I ever imagined.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to new exporters, or companies considering exporting from Nova Scotia?
A: Look for the opportunities – especially ones that your company can do that no one wants to do. Get very good at what you are doing and keep improving.
Q: How important is exporting to your business?
A: Exporting is essential. There is no way the population of Nova Scotia could eat all of the cranberries we process.
Q: How did you know exporting was right for your business?
A: When we sold our very first load of export cranberries in 2007, we had extra cranberries and another company in an export market needed cranberries. We needed the cash flow, so we sold the cranberries, and the buyer was happy to get them. Simply put, export business made sense from the first load, and we found lots more opportunity after that.
Q: And finally, what’s next for your business?
A: Two things:
- Multiply our Terra Beata branded retail business so that Canadian consumers are buying Canadian when they purchase juices or dried fruit. (Did you know that cranberry juice in Nova Scotia grocery stores is bottled in USA?)
- Increase our competitiveness for export business by investing in technology to become even more efficient.
Interested in export? Nova Scotia Business Inc. is dedicated to supporting the growth of business in Nova Scotia and our team of Regional Business Development Advisors is available to assess your needs and provide practical advice on taking your next steps toward growth in global markets.
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