Canadian Lobster Should be Well-Positioned for 2023 Retail, Foodservice and E-Commerce Promotions, says LCC
With wholesale prices back to more historical levels and no over supply of inventory, “Canadian lobster should be well positioned for retail, foodservice and e-commerce promotions in 2023,” says Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada (LCC).
“As usual, it is very hard to predict the spring market, but I would say that live and frozen lobster inventories are in an overall good position going into the spring. Wholesale prices for live lobster and frozen tails have moved up this winter due to supply challenges and market demand while lobster meat and whole-in-shell have been flat,” said Irvine.
Wholesale prices for live and frozen lobster fell 30 to 35 per cent last fall “from their pandemic highs and back to a more historical level” which has helped with market demand.
According to data from Statistics Canada, “2022 was our second-best year in terms of export value and best year ever for export volume for both live and frozen lobster,” says Irvine.
In 2022, live lobster exports to the U.S. weighed in at 22,760,819 kg, valued at $545,046,367. In 2021, live lobster exports to the U.S. tipped the scales at 21,706,325 kg, valued at $522,690,653.
Live lobster exports to China in 2022 totalled 23,161,620 kg, valued at $452,023,902. In 2021, 19,684,693 kg of live lobster was exported to China, worth $454,791,828.
Meanwhile, in lobster fishing areas (LFA) 33 and 34, where the lobster season is winding down, low landings were still being reported going into April.
“As far as effort, things are picking up but it’s very, very slow. Catches are really down, the water is cold, fishermen are having a hard time to get anything that makes sense money-wise here,” says Tommy Amirault president of the Coldwater Lobster Association.
“It used to be a little spurt in March where people would get what we used to call the hungry early crawlers, but even that seems to be slower now that winter comes later and kind of lags on and the water is cold. It’s the slowest time of the year right now. It’s barely worth going,” said Amirault.
Come April, Amirault said he thinks some of the fishermen who “have something else to do are going to be doing it whether that’s halibut or scallop fishing or something along those lines. I’m guessing they’re going to be looking to try something like that because it is looking really slow this year. More people are coming inside. They’re a little bit leery of staying outside where the expenses are being born so there’s a fair amount of gear inside. I don’t think its going to be much of a spring. The only bright side, we’re hoping that lobster get cleaned up from the tank shops and the processors and we start the fall with an empty slate.”
Going into April, the shore price was in the $13 to $13.50/pound range.
“Even at that high price… this year doesn’t seem like anything helps. It’s flat right across the board from the inshore to the offshore. Maybe the story will change by the end of May. Maybe we’ll have a really big April. Maybe the water will warm up.”