Shucks, 35 years of Raspberry Point Oysters and counting

Posted on May 31, 2024 | Atlantic Business Magazine | 0 Comments

 

The waters of New London Bay, P.E.I. where the first Raspberry Point Oysters were grown (photo credit: Raspberry Point Oyster Company)

Grown from the shores of Prince Edward Island, Raspberry Point Oyster Company has been operating for over three decades. What started as a hobby between father and son turned into a small business and over time evolved into an international supplier of quality oysters. Still a family-owned enterprise, the future is bright for upcoming generations.

From hobby to business

Throughout the ‘80s, Scott Linkletter and his father Charles fished for oysters off the coast of P.E.I. To ensure they always had access to the fresh Maritime delicacy, they placed their hauls near the shore of their cottage in New London Bay. Already the operators of a growing ice cream enterprise (they founded COWS in 1983), the Linkletters pondered turning their fishing hobby into a business by growing their own oysters. In 1989, they recruited James Power (a part-time ice cream maker at COWS) to help with the new venture.

The team of three learned the techniques of growing oysters and eventually produced an annual crop of 1,800. Ready to fully commit, in 1992 the Linkletters incorporated Raspberry Point Oyster Company and opened a small production facility.

 

A box of oysters from Raspberry Point Oyster Company (photo credit: Raspberry Point Oyster Company)

Growing farms

Having started with a single oyster bed and a facility of under 100 square feet, the business slowly grew over time. The Linkletters added farms in Covehead, Oyster Bed, Rustico and other areas across the island, which resulted in different brands of oysters. James Power, now general manager, explained that oysters taste differently based on the water they come from. So, the company created different names for oysters based on their size and where they’re grown to give customers a consistent experience with their product.

The organization scaled production exponentially thanks to advances in technology. About 10 years ago, they began using oyster grow cages, which improved the yield of oyster crops, resulted in more consistent sizes and reduced growing time. Rather than every oyster being graded by hand, they’re now washed, graded and sorted in a machine.

Raspberry Point Oyster Company currently has a team of over 50 employees and before Hurricane Fiona, annual sales were up to 26 million oysters. While oysters are available for purchase on their website, the vast majority of its business is wholesale to restaurants and distributors across Canada and the U.S.

 

James Power, General Manager, has been involved in the business since 1989 (photo credit: Raspberry Point Oyster Company)

Learning experiences

In addition to selling physical products, about five years ago Raspberry Point began offering educational experiences to bus tours visiting town. This led to a more formalized Shuck & Learn program that teaches small groups about oysters, how they’re grown and how to properly shuck them. Power says the program has been very successful after launching in 2023 and he hopes to expand into boat tours this year. “Interest is strong. People want to know how things work and where their food comes from,” he commented.

 

A plate of Raspberry Point Oysters (photo credit: Raspberry Point Oyster Company)

Still shucking

Today, operations continue at Raspberry Point Oyster Company with its head office in Charlottetown, a new 30,000 square foot production facility and about 600 acres of farms across the island. With Scott Linkletter’s son as CEO representing the third generation involved in the business, it appears it will remain in the family.


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