54 years of berry sweet success for Oxford Frozen Foods
Posted on April 29, 2022 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
Found in the frozen foods aisle, Atlantic Canadians have been enjoying Oxford products for over 50 years. With headquarters in Nova Scotia and sales across the globe, the business is a prime example of just how far a well-planted seed can grow.
Oxford Frozen Foods, Ltd. was founded in 1968 in Oxford, Nova Scotia by John Bragg. The Town of Oxford has perfect conditions for growing blueberries and in 1967 blueberry crops in Nova Scotia were exceptionally large, so John saw a business opportunity. At the time a 28-year-old farmer, his entrepreneurial spirit provided the fuel needed to grow roots in the processed foods industry.
Using government financing, John opened an 8,000 square foot blueberry processing facility with a capacity to process 2 million pounds of berries each year. However, there was a bump in the road early on. A June frost in 1968 destroyed most blueberry crops, which left him contemplating the future of his business. Thankfully, his financers gave him a second chance.
Video of Matthew Bragg, son of John Bragg, explaining the history of Oxford Frozen Foods and the benefits of North American wild blueberries (credit: Oxford Frozen Foods Group)
Starting to grow
The business grew quickly. Oxford expanded beyond blueberries in 1971, adding onion rings and carrot farming and processing to the business. Years later in 1982, Oxford acquired U.S.-based Cherryfield Foods, as well as Halfway River Factory in N.S. And in 1988, Oxford’s original factory received a major facelift, expanding by over 6,200 square feet, building a loading dock, increasing cold storage and adding a new building for onion ring production.
Oxford continued to expand its facilities over the years and acquired businesses and facilities such as the Hillaton Factory, Maine Wild Blueberry Company and Peninsula Foods. By 2001, production had grown to 3 million pounds per day and 40 million pounds of frozen storage.
New Brunswick blueberries
Another notable expansion was announced in 2013. Oxford planned to invest $184 million in the Acadian Peninsula of New Brunswick to establish blueberry fields and build a processing facility. The Acadian Wild Blueberry Company officially opened in July of 2016 as a division of Oxford Frozen Foods.
Advertisement promoting Oxford Frozen Foods’ wild blueberries (credit: Oxford Frozen Foods Group)
In 2018, Oxford began a national marketing campaign to promote blueberries, their staple product. Appearing on well-known networks such as HGTV, TSN, the Food Network and Global, the goal was to educate customers about wild blueberries and bring awareness to the Town of Oxford, known as the blueberry capital of Canada. A website was also developed (oxfordwildblueberries.com) to provide further education.
Today, Oxford Frozen Foods is the largest provider of wild blueberries in the world, as well as the North American leader in frozen carrots. Appetizers such as onion rings, mushrooms and cheese sticks round out their product offerings. Now known as Oxford Food Group the company includes two farming divisions and eight processes facilities across Canada and the U.S.
54 years of operation and still growing strong.
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