COVID-19 continues to impact both the live and frozen lobster markets for Canadian exporters.
“The live and frozen lobster market has adjusted in 2022 after record exports in 2021,” says Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada (LCC).
“For the frozen lobster meat and tail market, the main impact is consumer sentiment in the U.S.A. and Canada where high inflation, fuel costs, interest rate hikes, general uncertainty caused by the Ukraine war, a fear of recession and a lack of government stimulus have slowed the COVID-19 recovery that was enjoyed in late 2021 and early 2022,” said Irvine.
“There is apparent solid demand, at an adjusted price, from Europe for frozen whole in-shell lobster for retail sales,” says Irvine.
“For the live market, the COVID-19 shutdown of Shanghai and slowdown in Beijing has cut exports to China for March and April. The war in Ukraine and COVID-19 fears have also played a part as well as worldwide inflationary pressures.”
The import value of live lobster to China in January and February was record setting, exceeding $160 million. The numbers dropped to $40 million in March and just over $20 million in April.
“As we head into the summer, everyone is hoping that the market will stabilize as COVID-19 slows down, food inflation and gas prices stabilize and the world fully reopens again,” says Irvine.
Meanwhile, marketing initiatives and strategies for Canadian seafood continues.
“The two major seafood shows this winter and spring, Seafood Expo North America in Boston and Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona were both very successful with seafood traders in North America and Europe happy to see each other face to face after two years apart,” said Irvine.
“There were 23 Atlantic Canadian exporters in the pavilion in Barcelona that was funded by the federal/provincial Atlantic Trade and Investment Growth Agreement (ATIGA) program.”
Irvine said in 2022, the LCC has a number of marketing initiatives underway and are proponents for several market development proposals.
On the social media, digital marketing front, the LCC has four campaigns planned using Instagram. The first one was completed over the May long weekend, featuring new engaging recipes using lobster meat, raw tails and whole lobster, said Irvine.
There will be another year of menu creation by Chef Ambassadors; Chef Rene Lavallee, Chef Alain Bosse, Chef Todd Perrin and Chef Veronica Mal, under the chef ambassador program.
On the international front in Europe, “we are focused on engaging, informing and building relationships with environmental groups, non-governmental organizations, trade associations, Canadian Trade Commissioners, provincial and federal government officials and the lobster sector focused on market access challenges such as lobster welfare/sentience, North Atlantic right whale mitigation measures, post-pandemic food safety, sustainability and non-tariff trade barriers in China, Europe and the United States. We are also working with all of the major seafood sustainability rating schemes (Monterey Bay Aquarium, WWF and Marine Conservation Society) to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information about the lobster fishery in Canada,” said Irvine.
The LCC is the proponent for a market development proposal for China currently being considered by ACOA and the provinces that proposes a three-year digital and traditional marketing program focused on the “Seafood from Canada” branding program, said Irvine.
The LCC is also working on a proposal focused on a program of in-person business to business meeting matchmaking in three key Asian markets: Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, he explained.