Success runs wild at Saskatchewan’s Last Mountain Berry Farms
By Fruit & Vegetable
at Saskatchewan’s Last Mountain Berry Farms
By Fruit & Vegetable
Take a 15-acre saskatoon berry
orchard, a couple of determined entrepreneurs, and a view to making
quality products a priority, and you might just get a sense of Last
Mountain Berry Farms’ recipe for success.
Take a 15-acre saskatoon berry orchard, a couple of determined entrepreneurs, and a view to making quality products a priority, and you might just get a sense of Last Mountain Berry Farms’ recipe for success.
Daily, the Southey-based family operation produces 4,000 quarts of jam and spread, which has been sold across Canada since 1991. Thanks to its 10 to 12 full-time employees and a value chain that includes requirements of 250,000 litres of fruit a year, Last Mountain Berry Farms is not only the nation’s largest processor of saskatoon berries, it might even be the largest in the world.
Barb and Barry Isaac are the owners and founders of the operation.
“We started out with a bare piece of land where Barry’s grandfather homesteaded in 1905,” explains Barb. “Today we are into volume production that is sold coast-to-coast, but we never compromise on the quality of our product.”
This is a family tradition, according to Barb. “When I lived in California, we grew all our fruits and vegetables. We now grow saskatoons. These flavours are so authentic to this part of the world. We are just happy to share them with Canadians. And we wanted a natural product. Everything is as homemade as it can possibly be.”
In fact, Barb and Barry also farm four quarters they have converted to organic agriculture. But that is pretty much a hobby compared to their fruit processing activities.
Last Mountain Berry Farms buys saskatoons from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. They manage to sell their product without advertising – simply by word of mouth.
Barry Isaac sometimes can’t believe how successful the business has become.
“As market demands our fruit, we just supply it. The product sells itself, and it sells more and more. The challenge then becomes ensuring a constant supply for our clients. We started out producing two pallets a week. We can now produce between 20 and 25 pallets of all kinds of fruit product during that same period. It feels pretty good.”
How did Last Mountain Berry Farms get there?
“We learned from our mistakes,” says Barry. “We have always been cautious, and quality remains our top priority. We may have bought a piece of equipment in the past, only to find out it wasn’t right for the job later on, but we have managed to keep those miscalculations to a minimum. Fortunately, the jam plant has always run smoothly with the help of dedicated employees – it took the entire team to make it work.”
Last Mountain Berry Farms conducts regular taste tests with staff to ensure consumers won’t be disappointed, and it looks as though their numbers are about to leap once more, according to Barry.
“We are on the verge of expanding significantly in Eastern Canada with Sobeys, Loblaws and Costco carrying our products. Our jam type spreads are very popular in the following order of preference: Raspberry, Saskatoon, Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry and Red Cherry. We buy the fruits from as far away as British Columbia.”
Compared to the major players in North America, the Last Mountain Berry Farms difference is that there are no chemicals or added preservatives.
Plain, fresh, good old-fashioned fruit is all that goes into their products.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes to make consumers ask for more.
You can contact Barb and Barry Isaac, Last Mountain Berry Farms, at (306) 726-4683.