SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by John Sackton - March 31, 2011- A frozen lobster marketing program targeting China, begun in 2009, has achieved spectacular results, leading to surging sales of Canadian lobster to mainland China.
In response to the sharp drop in lobster prices in 2008, the Province of New Brunswick, and the major processors and the maritime fishermen's union, supported a program that would market frozen Canadian lobster in China, and bring Chinese buyers to Canada.
Since the program began in 2009, it has achieved spectacular results.
The marketing effort targeted high end chefs in Western hotels, and other Chinese chefs interested in experimenting with a Chinese approach to western cuisine.
The climate was helped by the growing shortage of Australian rock lobster in China. Canadian lobster is priced considerably lower.
Seminars and functions were held for Chefs in Beijing and Shanghai, and participants attended several trade shows.
Seminar at Dalian Trade Show (photo New Brunswick Dept. of Fisheries)
Chef seminars were held in Beijing and Shanghai (photo: NB fisheries)
The results have been quite spectacular. In 2009, total Canadian lobster sales to China were $239,000. In 2010, largely as result of the marketing program, sales jumped to over $3 million. In 2011, sales are projected to reach $5 to $6 million.
This spring, there have already been contacts between Chinese buyers and New Brunswick producers to work on deals.
As the Canadian dollar appreciates, exporters have sought ways to broaden the market for frozen lobster, tails, and meat beyond the U.S., and Asia has been the most promising target.
As in other commodities, increasing Chinese interest can often lead to surges in demand for exports. So far, the sales of frozen lobster to China are still very small - but the marketing program has brought the Chinese into the tent, and like the proverbial camel, once the camel's nose is in the tent, the rest of his body will soon follow.