November 2010 SaskSecrets

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Welcome! You are viewing an archived issue of SaskSecrets, Tourism Saskatchewan's Online Newsletter, from November 2010. To read the current issue of SaskSecrets, click here.

Are Saskatoon Berries the Next Big Thing?

Prairie Berries on Dragons' DenSandra Purdy, owner and operator of Prairie Berries in Keeler, SK (which is just north of Moose Jaw), has made it her mission to make the saskatoon berry famous! She knows it has the potential to become a well-known ‘Superfruit’, and now after an appearance on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, she has help on this quest.

In late April of this year, Sandra and her niece Alison Ozog, who is a graduate student in the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan, presented their business opportunity to the “Dragons” of CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Sandra’s business Prairie Berries has been in operation for over 10 years, and now with the help of growers across western Canada, it has reached the point where they can produce the supply necessary to take the saskatoon berry to much larger markets. Sandra knew the next step was to increase awareness of the saskatoon berry in order to make it a more mainstream product.

Saskatoon Berries“The goal is to make more people aware of the health benefits of the saskatoon berry and grow the business internationally. The challenge we faced was to get the word out to a larger market so that saskatoon berries could be as much of a household name as blueberries,” said Sandra. “In February, I saw an ad for new episodes of Dragons’ Den, I wanted to learn from the Dragons, and I was curious. So I thought Why not!

Sandra auditioned for the show with her pitch in Regina on March 4, 2010 to a group of CBC producers.  On April 29, 2010, she found herself on a plane to Toronto to present in front of the Dragons. “I was excited beyond belief when I found out we were going to be on the show,” she said. “I was nervous and intimidated when I first got to Toronto, but I focused on what I was there to achieve and believed I could do it.”

Making Pies at Prairie BerriesAnd that’s exactly what she did. During her presentation, four of the five Dragons passed on her pitch, but one, Arlene Dickinson, saw the potential in Sandra’s idea. Arlene struck a deal with Sandra on the spot, and since the show Arlene has followed up with Sandra and their partnership. Together they are on a venture to make the saskatoon berry famous. Both are excited to move forward. 

For more information about Prairie Berries, visit www.prairieberries.com.