Americans sending less lobster to Canada as processing grows

SACO, Maine -- America's lobster industry is sending less of its catch to Canada as processing grows in New England, and the growth could have widespread ramifications for consumers who are demanding more lobster products every year.

See Full Article

U.S. lobstermen, clustered in the coastal New England states, have long sent a large amount of their catch to Canada's Maritime Provinces, where some two dozen companies process millions of pounds of lobster meat every year into everything from vacuum-sealed lobster meat packages to lobster pate. The processed lobster ends up in products like lobster ravioli and lobster pot pie that are growing in popularity with consumers.

But the dynamics of the processing industry are slowly changing. America exported about 69 million pounds of lobster to Canada in 2014, and the 2015 figure was less than 67 million, federal data show.

The trend comes as the lobster catch is booming, enabling the growth in processed lobster products. American fishermen set a record for lobster catch in 2012 and nearly topped it the following two years.

More processing plants in Maine are providing a way for fishermen to sell their lobsters locally rather than export, and Massachusetts lawmakers might change laws to allow more processing in their state. The processing growth could ultimately democratize the notoriously expensive lobster by making lobster products more available and affordable.

"Processors are creating more markets; more markets create greater opportunity for additional channels for lobster products to be sold," said Luke Holden, president of Luke's Lobster and owner of Cape Seafood, a processor in Saco, Maine.

Maine's lobster meat processing industry barely existed 25 years ago, slowly grew to five companies in 2010 and now includes 15 firms that processed about 20 million pounds of meat in 2013. Voters agreed to help pay for more growth through a 2014 referendum to dedicate $7 million in public money to Maine seafood and lobster processing.

In Massachusetts, where the lobster industry and some state leaders see the possibility of creating a bigger lobster-processing sector, the state Senate approved a bill in January that updates state laws to permit processing, sales and transportation of cooked and frozen in-shell lobster parts.

New England's processing industry remains dwarfed by Canada's. Companies in provinces including New Brunswick and Nova Scotia processed about 150 million pounds of lobster in 2013.

But leaders in Canada's industry have noticed the U.S. growth. Jerry Amirault, president of the Lobster Processors Association of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, said he anticipates more competition between the U.S. and Canada for lobsters to process.

"We believe with the growth in the U.S. industry, increased demand takes place," he said. "There's going to be a competition for that resource."

The slight drop in lobster exports to Canada can be attributed to more factors than just processing growth, such as the supply of lobsters and the weak Canadian dollar, said John Sackton, an industry analyst and publisher of Seafood.com.

But domestic processing growth is important because it reduces shipping costs, which are eventually borne by the consumer, lobstermen have said. Processing growth is also important because of the trend toward processed lobster products and the importance of branding them as local to New England, some said.

"Restaurants are adding lobster in many ways. Lobster mashed potatoes, lobster mac and cheese," Sackton said. "The growth in the industry is going to be very much in that direction."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Asian markets rise after Wall Street's sharp gains

    Economic CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Most Asian markets staged modest gains on Wednesday after overnight gains on Wall Street as geopolitical risks and turmoil at the White House that have dented investor sentiment in the past few weeks abated while investors eyed the annual gathering of central bankers. Source
  • B.C. seeks intervener status in court cases against Trans Mountain pipeline

    Economic CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- The British Columbia government has applied for intervener status in court challenges against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The NDP government announced earlier this month that it would be joining the legal fight against Ottawa's approval of the $7.4-billion project and hired former judge Thomas Berger to provide legal advice. Source
  • Rising old age security spending dampened by CPP increases: report

    Economic CBC News
    A mandatory review of the country's largest seniors benefit program is predicting all-time highs in spending over the coming years with waves of baby boomer retirements — spending levels that could have been even higher if not for changes to the public pension program. Source
  • Calgary airport to convert Lexus-only stalls back to accessible parking

    Economic CTV News
    Calgary International Airport has apologized for moving accessible parking stalls and setting up a Lexus marketing campaign in their place. The pavement in the parking spots was painted to indicate they were reserved for drivers of the luxury car. Source
  • Rowdy Korean Air passenger's 3-year prison sentence reversed

    Economic CTV News
    HAGATNA, Guam -- A U.S. appeals court has struck down the three-year prison sentence of a rowdy Korean Air passenger convicted of interfering with flight attendants last year on a flight to Guam. The 9th U.S. Source
  • Striking ground crew at Toronto airport to vote on new offer from employer

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The union representing striking ground crew workers at Canada's busiest airport says it has received a new contract offer that will be voted on tomorrow. About 700 baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and other ground crew employed by Swissport at Toronto's Pearson International Airport have been on strike since late July. Source
  • June retail sales a bright spot for Canadian economy: economists

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - Canadian retail sales rose slightly in June and continue to be a bright spot in the economy. Statistics Canada says in a report issued Tuesday that the retail sector's growth was 1.1 per cent, excluding automotive and gasoline sales. Source
  • CGI Group moves to expand in northern Europe with takeover of Affecto

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's largest publicly traded IT services business is moving to expand its presence in Europe through the acquisition of Affecto PLC in a friendly deal that would add about 1,000 staff in northern Europe. CGI Group Inc. Source
  • Big banks set to reveal profits this week against the backdrop of improving economy

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's biggest banks could deliver another profitable season for investors as third-quarter results starting to roll in this week are expected to get a boost from the strengthening economy. Analysts expect modest improvements from the Big Six banks, which launch their quarterly earnings reports beginning with Royal Bank on Wednesday, but some suggest the industry could outdo the conservative predictions. Source
  • BHP Billiton puts brakes on Jansen potash mine

    Economic CBC News
    BHP Billiton won't be asking its board to build the Jansen potash project any time soon. In its year-end financial results, the global resource company says it won't be asking the board for approval to go ahead with the Jansen potash project in 2018. Source