Why this country’s lobster exports to China are surging

Published on
September 16, 2015

Canadian lobster sales to China continue to increase this year, thanks to increased demand from Chinese consumers and a favorable exchange rate with the Canadian dollar.

“There has been a substantial growth in exports [of lobster] to China from Canada over the last 24 months, said Michael Gardner, president of Gardner Pinfold Consultants in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Canadian companies have really turned things around in the past four or five years.”

Canada’s lobster exports to China reached CAD 6.1 million (EUR 4.1 million, USD 4.6 million) worth of live lobsters and CAD 3.5 million (EUR 2.3 million, USD 2.6 million) for frozen lobsters in June, 2015, according to Statistics Canada. Conversely, live Canada lobster exports to China were only worth CAD 2.6 million (EUR 1.73 million, USD 1.96 million) in July, 2013, and frozen exports were worth around CAD 1 million (EUR 666,213, USD 754,233), according to Statistics Canada.

While the latest data available is for June, exporters say sales have been much higher throughout the summer and fall – thanks in part to Chinese buyers shifting from U.S. to Canada suppliers because of the more favorable exchange rate.

The U.S. currency exchange rate with China is approximately 25 to 30 percent higher than the Canadian exchange rate.

”Our sales to China have increased dramatically this year – around 30 to 40 percent – compared to last year,” said David Xu, China representative for lobster exporter ZF Max International in Oakville, Ont. Last year, ZF Max and several other wholesalers participated in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s huge 11 November sale, which resulted in the sale of nearly 90,000 lobsters. 

While the promotion helped garner awareness of ZF Max and its wholesale partner in China, ZF Max will likely not be participating in the 11 November sale this year. “If you enter China as a new company, Alibaba is one way to garner awareness of your brand, but not the only way,” Xu said. “You need some company or companies promoting your brand in China, so the business is sustainable long-term.”

Canadian lobster fishermen have also realized significantly increased demand for their product this summer. “More buyers are coming from everywhere. Lobster seems to be a hot commodity right now and a lot of that has to do with China,” said Craig Avery, president of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association.

In addition to the favorable currency exchange, lobster suppliers and associations have built the demand for lobster overseas, according to Avery. “I have made three trips to China in recent years, and we have promoted our own PEI Fishers brand in Europe.” Canadian lobster processors have also opened up new markets in Sweden, Russia, Korea and other countries, Avery added.

Contributing Editor

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