Mermaid Fare – Seavegetables based on science and community!
Ana Ferreira (BioMarine Community Manager) and Taylor Widrig (Founder of Mermaid Fare Inc.)
Mermaid Fare Inc. revolves around the words sustainability, innovation and fairness. This Company from Nova Scotia, Canada, is committed to give the market delicious sea vegetables (or as we know them, seaweeds), while promoting the use of such ingredients for a healthier lifestyle trough several community-oriented initiatives! From the community to the community, with a crucial support from academia, Mermaid Fare Inc. is an interesting example of how to run a sustainable business and Taylor Widrig, the founder, told us all about it!
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How Mermaid Fare Inc. was born and the values behind it
The concept for Mermaid Fare began as a health and wellness company in 2013 providing education on the plant-based lifestyle while promoting seaweeds for health. Six months into it, Taylor said that she “wanted to center the company around a product line within Mermaid Fare’s core values” and created an edible retail product line from regional seaweed suppliers and producers. Gradually it went from selling the products at local farmers markets, and then to retailers. Now they upscaled the business, always counting on their local community for support, as Taylor explained: “We now use production facility Dartmouth Adult Services Centre (DASC) Industries as a fulfillment center which hires individuals with intellectual disabilities for enhanced quality of life and will continue to grow the company in alignment with our mission of sustainable social and environmental impacts”.
A close relationship with seaweed farmers is the key for a sustainable business
Taylor explained how they ensure alignment between the farmers values and with the ones of Mermaid Fare: “When we meet new suppliers we ensure that their code of ethics and processing methods are in alignment, working under guidelines pertaining to harvesting management, and working with the natural seasons and geography for harvesting technologies”. Also, she quickly jumps to a perfect example “There is one sea farmer who is in the process of updating his harvesting vessel to use biofuel – we encourage these ideas and do our best to facilitate growth in areas like this which contribute to a more sustainable blue economy”.
Mermaid Fare Inc. goes way beyond food and environmental sustainability
Taylor explained why the importance of going beyond environmental sustainability “The term ‘sustainable’ is used so often nowadays and it always makes us think of the benefits to our physical planet, but there is also the essence of ‘social sustainability’”. She adds that “After attending the Sustainable Blue Economy conference in Nairobi on behalf of the United Nations Sustainable Development program, it confirmed a blueprint for the desire to grow with a positive social ripple effect through our operations - the world is waking up to the need to take sustainable actions not only through government but also within industry and academia”. Mermaid Fare will continue to implement these values in its operations and projects, while focusing on crucial topics such as: climate change; bio-diversity and business diversity; ocean health; malnutrition reduction; and fostering economic growth in rural and developing regions.
Business expansion is on the road map, while keeping the “Mermaid System”
In keeping the company’s focus and compass directed towards sustainability, in terms of expansion Taylor explained that they are looking to “the most strategically sustainable methods of operating and implementing the Mermaid System through our growth”. This, she explains, will “ensure remaining as sustainable as possible (the new ASAP acronym of 2019?!) through our expansion, and utilizing new technologies as researchers, companies, and institutions work to create sustainable solutions to enhance the blue economy”. In 2019 the business will mainly focus on the North American market and the company is currently building a strategy for Europe and Asia.
The use of Bio-plastics is one of the main goals for the Company
Knowing that plastics and the reduction of plastic use is such a global focus right now for good reason, Mermaid Fare has been steadily replacing plastic with kraft paper where they can. Taylor explains that “We all know we need to change and reduce the use of these products, but it will take time for companies to make the transition, but we all know the direction to take. I think it is a very exciting time for bio-plastics and developments in this arena and we are open to learning more from researchers or companies creating these products”.
The goals for 2019
For Taylor, the goals for 2019 are very straightforward: “Our focus for Mermaid Fare Inc. during 2019 is growth expansion in the North American market and continuing our initiatives to meet mission goals”.
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