Hundreds of exhibitors from Eastern Canada were among the 1,141 exhibiting companies from 49 countries who recently attended the Seafood Expo North America (SENA) in Boston on March 12 to 14.
“People think of going to trade shows and think it’s a lovely place to go and look at stuff and pick up swag, but this trade show was unlike anything I’ve ever been to before,” says New Brunswick Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson.
“It was just an amazing opportunity for producers to network with each other, to look at transportation possibilities, to look at packaging innovations, to look at equipment innovations, to look at market potentials, it was just a fantastic platform for producers and shippers and processors to get together and discuss the common challenges of the industry, to see what’s going well and what we need to work with. It was a great opportunity for them to sit down with government representatives to say how can you further our cause,” said Johnson.
Johnson led a delegation of more than 100 New Brunswick companies at the Expo, the largest of its kind in North America. Most of New Brunswick’s seafood producers, harvester associations and industry service providers were represented at the event.
The New Brunswick booth showcased the province’s seafood producers and harvesters, while industry service providers were well-represented on the show floor, said Johnson.
New Brunswick hosted “a grand old kitchen party” at the Expo. “It was very well attended. Producers, processors, stakeholders, we had some fishers there as well and lots from other countries and provinces who wanted to come. It was a great event, very well attended,” said Johnson. “I’m just so proud of our industry. They have done so much for innovation. We have looked at creating gear that is whale safe. We’ve looked at climate change innovations and reaction to weather events, we’re using a lot of low carbon practices so any opportunity that we have to let the rest of the world know what great work our sectors are doing we want to have a chance to do that and we sure like to toot their horn on their behalf.”
Johnson said all four Atlantic provinces and Québec were “very well represented” at the Expo, adding the provincial and territorial minsters also had the opportunity to meet with federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, which is always important.
Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture Derrick Bragg led a delegation of market and export development specialists from his department along with seafood sector companies from that province to the Expo.
“Once again, Seafood Expo North America has provided a prime opportunity to highlight and strengthen Newfoundland and Labrador’s reputation as a leading producer of sustainably-sourced, high quality, nutritious seafood,” said Bragg.
“I was very pleased to meet with colleagues and industry experts from other jurisdictions to learn first-hand of the tremendous interest in our province’s seafood sector. I am confident the collective efforts of our seafood marketing team and the province’s seafood producers will lead to new opportunities and positive outcomes for harvesters and plant workers around the province.”
For Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Steve Craig, although this was his first time at the event, “Seafood Expo North America in Boston has been an important part of our province’s growth strategy for many years… it was so exciting to see such a strong Nova Scotia and Canadian presence in Boston.”
Craig said at least 20 Nova Scotia companies exhibited within the Seafood from Canada Pavilion and throughout the show, while more than 50 companies walked the show to meet, network and do business. The pavilion was funded by ACOA, in partnership with the four Atlantic provinces.
“It was an honour to attend this year and see Nova Scotia’s fisheries and aquaculture industry shine on this world stage,” said Craig. “I spent a lot of time at the expo meeting and engaging with industry and government counterparts. There was also an opportunity to build on relationships formed on my recent Asia mission and to meet people from all over the world.”
Nova Scotia is Canada’s seafood export leader, with exports valued at $2.6 billion in 2022, representing 31 per cent of the country’s total seafood export value. The United States currently represents 47 per cent of the province’s seafood exports.
Price Edward Island was also represented at the Expo.
“There were eight Island companies exhibiting in the P.E.I. Pavilion. There were several other Island companies exhibiting on their own outside the P.E.I. Pavilion, plus some companies walking the show,” says Hillary MacDonald, spokesperson for the P.E.I. Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture.
Minister Johnson said New Brunswick exported $1.8 billion worth of seafood to 54 countries in 2022, highlighted by considerable market diversification for New Brunswick lobster sales and growth and the value of salmon sales.
“Crab is another huge market,” she said. “We’re trying to get as much of our quality seafood all over the world” adding they are currently exploring market potential in South America.
“The work never stops. There’s another show in Barcelona, we will be sending a team, Norway and other events taking place in Indonesia, Japan, China, Korea and we’re making sure the work is ongoing and that our amazing market and trade representatives are out there selling our product to the rest of the world,” added Johnson.
In 2022, Canada exported over $8-billion worth of fish and seafood to 112 countries. The United States remains Canada’s largest export market, accounting for more than two-thirds of exports valued at $5.5 billion. Fish and seafood are among the largest single food commodities exported by Canada. Canada’s most valuable exports by species in 2021 were lobster, snow crab and Atlantic salmon.