It’s Thanksgiving week which reminds me that it is a good time to reflect on the many blessings we at Skuna Bay have been afforded this year and since our inception in November of 2011 in Southern California when we delivered our first salmon to a chef. It sure has been humbling to have some of the greatest chefs in North America ask for and appreciate our salmon.
When we began this journey two years ago with our first distributor partner Santa Monica Seafood, we had no idea where things would go. We knew we wanted to achieve two things: one we wanted to give chefs a great salmon experience every time they ordered it so that they could always have confidence that they would be putting their best in front of their customers. And two, we hoped to show that it is possible to responsibly rear salmon in its natural ocean environment with more attention to detail and with a focus on high standards. We hope we are achieving that but the task is never complete.
At the outset we also expected that if we stuck to our standards and made no compromises, we would be raising the bar for everyone. That has been a nice benefit. For example we have reduced our reliance on wild fish in our feed to a world class 1.1:1, extended fallowing periods at our farms and worked hard to make sure our fish are always healthy. We were the first farming operation to have all of our fish coming from Best Aquaculture Practice certified farms and now there are some others who have, like us, attained BAP three star status. It would be nice to think we had something to do with this improvement but that is beside the point because regardless of the cause, this compettion for perfection in rearing habits has resulted in improved quality across the board – and ultimately it’s a huge win for our customer, the chef.
Recently we have also been approached by other farms in the region to help them in the marketplace (farms such as Northern Divine who partner with us on our new Skuna Bay Sturgeon Caviar). Some are harvesters of wild fish and some are farmers like us. Welcoming another farm into the Skuna Bay family was a step that generated new possibilities for us at Skuna Bay. If there were wild seafood harvesters eager to partner and if there was a world class sturgeon farm that met our high standards for rearing fish responsibly then couldn’t there also be other salmon operators in our region applying the same commitment to excellence as our craftsman farmers? And if other farmers could truly meet the high Skuna Bay standard, then including their salmon from time to time would provide an exciting array of possibilities.
The advantages of allowing other farms’ salmon into our Skuna Bay system are obvious – it would mean we would have fish available during those times when our own farms are not capable of delivering the size of fish our customers demand. It would mean never having to cut an order or turn down a chef who needs great salmon. It would mean never facing pressure to cut a corner (which we've never done by the way) or turn a blind eye to a slight blemish, scale loss or less than thick belly walls.
Allowing an outside farming operation to supply Skuna Bay from time to time would first require intense due diligence and personal oversight. A commitment to the highest standards would always be critical.
We think this idea is promising though - enough so that this week we will do test shipments to some of our distributor partners to evaluate whether or not salmon from other farms can meet our high standards. It may not work but even if it does, ultimately our customer, you the chef, will tell us whether or not this is a viable solution for you. The customer would always know which farm their fish came from because as you know, our salmon experts note it right there on the box. We’re looking forward to seeing how this goes and we’re looking forward to your feedback.
Which brings me back full circle to my original message. During this week of Thanksgiving, we at Skuna Bay have many thanks to give. We thank our salmon experts on Quadra Island for inspecting, selecting, preparing and packing Skuna Bay Salmon every day and ensuring that it is prepared perfectly and to the same standards every time. We give thanks to our logistics people and truckers who drive 24/7 in teams of two so that our salmon gets to the chef within days of coming out of the water. We give thanks to our distributor partner that delivers our salmon that last mile to the chef ensuring it arrives in fresh-from-the-ocean condition every time. We give thanks to the craftsman farmer who live on the farm 24/ 7, 8 days in a row and regardless of the weather, make sure our fish are fed, nurtured, healthy and ready after three plus years to be harvested and sent to market.
And most of all we give thanks to you the chef. Your demand for high standards makes us better and is the reason we exist. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
Sincerely, Stewart Hawthorn, Head Farmer, Skuna Bay Salmon