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Country food for all of Nunavut
Kivalliq Arctic Foods on solid ground as new product released

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A renewed focus on the Nunavut market is proving itself to be a solid business move by the Rankin Inlet-based Kivalliq Arctic Foods (KAF).

NNSL photo/graphic

Travis Niviatsiak works on a slab of caribou at Kivalliq Arctic Foods in Rankin Inlet this past week. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

The company is a subsidiary of the Nunavut Development Corp. (NDC), operating year-round with an average of nine full-time staff.

It employs two or three additional workers during peak periods.

KAF recently launched an updated version of a product line it introduced in December of 2012.

The family pack has proven itself to be an extremely popular choice across Kivalliq and Nunavut.

The latest family pack weighs in at more than seven kilograms and contains at least one sampling of every product available at the plant.

For a cost of $250, including shipping to anywhere in Nunavut, the case consists of two kilograms of maktaaq, two kilograms of caribou stew cubes, four pounds of ground muskox, one kilogram of traditional pipsi, one kilogram of turbot fillets and 200 grams of candied char nuggets.

Plant manager Todd Johnson said the company is trying to put as much reasonably-priced food into a family pack as possible.

He said the goal is to see people take advantage of Kivalliq Arctic Food products, without having to buy a full case of one specific item.

"We're also running a unique promotion in connection to the family pack," said Johnson.

"Anyone who purchases one can then post their best turbot recipe to our Facebook page, and whoever gets the most likes for their recipe will win the prize.

"The grand prize is a family pack, a full case of traditional pipsi, and a full case of caribou mikku.

"We see it as a very nice prize package and hope our customers feel the same."

Johnson said family packs have incredible potential to keep costs down and get country food into more Nunavut homes.

He said the pack is showing itself to be a phenomenal marketing approach for the company.

"They increase our visibility and get a good cross-selection of product out.

"The success of the product also provides benefits to hunters in our region.

"We had seven hunters from Arviat and Whale Cove arrive with an abundance of caribou this past month.

"We purchased every pound of tuktu they brought."

KAF buys caribou from regional hunters every winter, from the beginning of November to the end of March.

Johnson said if regional hunters can get the tuktu to the plant, the company will purchase it from them.

He said November to March is used because outdoor temps have to be -18 C or colder to transport the meat.

"The cold keeps the meat healthy and safe.

"The hunters really appreciate the chance to earn income from their harvesting.

"We still have a market outside of Nunavut, which we appreciate, but we're able to focus on the territory because there's enough demand for our products here now."

NDC president Darrin Nichol said he's pleased with how much KAF product is being sold in Nunavut.

He said NDC is all about supporting employment and income-earning opportunities in Nunavut.

"Providing Kivalliq harvesters an opportunity to sell sustainable products to Kivalliq Arctic Foods under an established commercial quota system is important to us, as well as the guys who rely on it to generate additional income to support their harvesting endeavours," said Nichol.

"The plant is busy and we appreciate and recognize the importance of putting this product back into the hands of Nunavummiut.

"Our operation is proudly Nunavut.

"It's about our territory, and recognizing some things are changing in that Nunavut is evolving and people are working, don't always have the time to harvest and find it expensive to hunt."

Nichol said the family pack makes a basket of quality country food, processed by Inuit at the plant, available to people across the territory.

He said running a processing facility in Nunavut is extremely costly and NDC is always revenue-challenged, but Kivalliq Arctic Foods is on solid footing as an NDC subsidiary company and there's no danger of the company closing its doors anytime soon.

"We always hear about the cost of freight, in terms of bringing food into the North from the south.

"But, what aren't discussed often are the overhead costs of power, fuel and local public utilities, which are very significant.

"It's difficult to find a balance between putting stuff out there that's affordable, and trying to run an organization that generates enough revenue to cover all those costs.

"It's an ongoing issue, but, when NDC assesses these things, we also look at what we're doing employment wise, and how we're advancing our programs at Kivalliq Arctic Foods to help support the hunters in our region."

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