Lesley Stowe Partners with WestJet

Lesley Stowe and WestJet | BCBusiness
As part of a new partnership, Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps and StartWell cookies will be served onboard WestJet flights.

Lesley Stowe Fine Foods, the Richmond-based creator of Raincoast Crisps, introduces its products as in-flight snacks

One of B.C.’s household names in food is taking to the skies this month. Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Ltd. has partnered with another West Coast powerhouse, WestJet, and will be featuring its products as in-flight snacks. As of October 1, passengers on WestJet flights from Toronto to Ottawa, Montreal and New York will receive complimentary Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps and StartWell Cookies.

Lesley Stowe, CEO of Lesley Stowe Fine Foods, says the company approached WestJet with the idea of offering its products on trolleys for in-flight snack sales, and after about 10 months, a new partnership emerged that will serve as a trial on flights in the East. “It’s a great arrangement for both sides and I hope that it leads to having the snacks in some of their other flights, specifically the West Coast,” says Stowe, “and possibly our original idea of having it on the trolley. That’s our hope for the future.”

The WestJet relationship is boon for Stowe not only for its financial implications, but also for securing a new—and captive—audience. “It’s a really great way for us to continue to get exposure,” Stowe says. “Financially, it’s a good thing to do, but it’s more about the relationship and spreading the word.”

Word-of-mouth has played a crucial role for Stowe and the company’s grassroots growth. “We’ve never gone down the route of mainstream coverage, as far as traditional advertising,” Stowe adds.

One of the company’s biggest challenges working in specialty foods has been finding the right partners and avoiding what Stowe calls “order takers,” who neglect to give proper attention to the products. Expanding distribution doesn’t necessarily mean blanketing the product where possible, but rather taking a deliberately selective approach, which is why the WestJet partnership is a good fit.

“Although we’re doing quite different things, still, there’s a lot of like-minded things […] between the two companies,” says Stowe. “It’s all about the people and the services, which is the way we think about ourselves too.”

It’s still early, but Stowe is already measuring the partnership’s success by the positive feedback from WestJet passengers. “We’ve had photos being sent to us—people with their little wine glass and the crisps beside it. We’ve had some very nice feedback,” she says.

Up next, Lesley Stowe Fine Foods has its sights set on expanding distribution “beyond just the specialty and grocery chains,” and possibly into the hotel and cruise-ship markets.