Feature on Classic Fine Foods Inc.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Nova Scotia Business Inc. along with its partners and sponsors will present The Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards, an annual celebration and recognition of excellence in exporting across Nova Scotia on May 26, 2016. Classic Fine Foods Inc. is one of ten companies that will be celebrated at the 2016 provincial EAA awards ceremony in Halifax.
Nova Scotia Business Inc. chatted with Jacklyn Anderson, vice-president of Classic Fine Foods Inc. The family-owned Cape Breton company is a manufacturing plant that produces an assortment of baked and ready-to-bake goods, with a focus on healthier eating. Its products are used by hospitals, schools, universities, retail outlets, hotels and nursing homes throughout Atlantic Canada, and the company is about to fill its first order in Ontario.
Q: Can you share your company’s history in Nova Scotia?
A: Our family is from Cape Breton. My brother, Wayne MacDonald, and I had both worked away from Nova Scotia for many years until Wayne moved back to Cape Breton in 2009 and established Classic Fine Foods. I joined him and the company in 2011. We’re committed to producing quality, consistent bakery products, and the growing demand for healthier foods has become our strength. We focus on developing new functional food products – foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. We pay attention to new trends in health and wellness by lowering salt, fat and sugar and replacing them with alternative ingredients such as sweet potato purée and oat fibre.
Q: What does being recognized by your local business community mean to your business and your employees?
A: Success begins at home, and you feel a special type of pride when it comes from business peers in your own backyard. Both Wayne and I moved back to Nova Scotia to build a successful business and to give back to the place we call home. We’re proud to employ local, exceptional people. Our staff members are some of the hardest working, most dedicated people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Like us, their home is Cape Breton, and they want to remain on this beautiful island.
Q: What factors have contributed to your success?
A: A lot of factors have played a role, but one constant in any new business is hard work, perseverance and determination. We started to feel real success when we embraced functional foods and the growing industry they represent. We needed to be innovative and creative, keep going when we hit obstacles, regroup and even hit the reset button when necessary. But we never give up, and recent successes tell us we’re on the right track. As one example, we’ve worked closely with Chartwells – which provides food services to schools and universities – to develop nutritionally specific cookies for the school system in Atlantic Canada. These cookies have been very successful, and we’re proud of that.
Q: What do you consider will be key to your success going forward?
A: The key will be to monitor functional food trends and develop and improve our Healthy Collection line to meet market demands. Nutritious must also taste delicious! Another factor will be to gain access, through the bidding process, to national contracts for grocery stores, franchised restaurants and big box stores – they award contracts nationally to procure the best price. Classic is now being recognized as a developer of superior quality baked goods that satisfy a wide array of nutritional values across Canada.
Q: What was your biggest learning or a-ha moment?
A: To be honest, there have been too many learning experiences, but our decision to go with qualified brokers instead of hiring our own sales force was a very big a-ha moment. Brokers provide expertise and access to markets that an in-house team could never match.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to new exporters, or companies considering exporting from Nova Scotia?
A: Do your research, and know your market. Be prepared for things to go wrong sometimes, and have contingency plans for any aspect of your business plan that may leave you exposed. If you need a sales force, hire brokers, as they can open doors much faster than you can on your own. Learn from your mistakes and grow.
Q: And finally, what’s the best thing about being a Nova Scotia exporter?
A: On a personal level, the best thing is that we get to live where we grew up and have our friends and family close. On a business level, Nova Scotia is close to many large markets, in particular Quebec and Ontario and the New England states.
Classic Fine Foods is in Sydney, Cape Breton. In 2015, the company was awarded the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce Export Achievement Award.
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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