News Release Archive


Nova Scotian oyster growers just got a taste of what the market
is looking for.

Rodney Clark, known as the "Oyster Man" in Toronto, was guest
speaker at a recent oyster workshop held in Port Hawkesbury.
Clark owns Rodney's Oyster House, a restaurant in downtown
Toronto that serves between 6,000 to 10,000 oysters a week.
Having been on the "oyster buying side" for 10 years, Clark had a
lot of marketing advice to offer the growers on the "selling
side" of the business.

"I was amazed and appreciative that people would drive from all
tips of Nova Scotia to solve the puzzle of what people want in
the oyster market," he said.

Clark was greeted by a very receptive crowd of oyster growers
from around Nova Scotia, as well as representatives from federal
and provincial departments.

Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Jim Barkhouse said the workshop
was "a great opportunity for growers to learn first-hand the
market expectations. They found out what the consumer wants and
what the requirements are."

Oyster growers in Nova Scotia have a good product and with a
little work, they can better cultivate the market. "I'm telling
them how they can get more money in their pocket," Mr. Clark

Markets are constantly changing, oysters being no exception. 
There is currently a slight ease in the economy, making markets
more favourable towards this specialty item, however, growers
must achieve the right marketing mix to sell their product.

Mr. Clark said, producers need to establish consistency in grade.
He said there must be agreement on a scale of measurement for
oyster shape and size.

He said uniformity of product is essential in all areas.
"Everyone -- buyers and producers -- needs the same scorecard."

Mr. Clark stressed the importance of grading. He said that
producers must sell graded oysters. A buyer may be looking for a
specific grade, so it is important to give the customer the grade
ordered and not mix grades, he said.

Alex Dunphy, an oyster grower from the Aspy Bay area, said, "The
grade is really important, and with a specialty item like
oysters, each buyer knows exactly the grade they want."

Packaging is part of the image and ideally, oysters should be
shipped in wooden boxes, filled with sea weed, cup side down.
They can also be shipped in Styrofoam if wooden boxes are not
available, Mr. Clark said.

Finally, he said, the producer's name must stand for something.
Buyers look for recognition of trademarks, so specific growing
areas should be labelled. This he said, is vital if producers
want to negotiate a top price.

In Mr. Clark's experience with oysters he said he has found it
important to distinguish the product by the area from which the
oyster comes. This gives the oyster a special identity and works
as a marketing tool. "You've got to give the oyster it's pride of
location. For example, oysters from the Bras d'Or Lakes come from
a place with a lot of history," Clark said.

Once growers understand these points, he said they should then
focus on getting oysters to market. Growers from around the
province should work together as a team to establish a
distribution system, Mr. Clark said.

Major North American markets include Washington, New Orleans, New
York, San Francisco, Montreal, Toronto and Chicago. Mr. Clark
also urged growers to work with the tourism and restaurant
industries to promote oysters. "Nova Scotia has the ability to
make people feel warmly welcomed. Why not make them feel like
kings by serving them oysters?"

Mr. Clark is more than a restauranteur, in fact he is one of the
fastest oyster shuckers around, recently placing first in the
Oyster Shucking Championships of Canada, held in Prince Edward


Contact: Diane Kenny  902-424-0308

trp                       Dec. 16, 1996 - 1:20 p.m.