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Last Updated:[24-11-2009 06:33:25 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Canada Aims to Feed the Growing Seafood Appetite of Asia

tradenews The Canadian fish industry is agog over capturing the new emerging markets of Asia through aggressive promotion programs in spite of competition from ASEAN fishing industry. The Canadian fishing industry see great business potential in marketing their products in emerging Asian economies including China, Japan and S. Korea.

They argue the sudden economic growth of many Asian countries have brought about change in their dietary needs aided by higher purchasing power to go for expensive food products such as, lobsters and shrimps. Currently, major chunk of the Canadian fish products are exported to the US, however, the effects of downturn force the industry to expand to far-off markets of Asia despite likely stiff competition from the local and neighbouring producers.

As part of promotion, representatives from the lobster industry in Nova Scotia and the government recently completed a 10-day trade mission to China. Last week, Alberta government too took similar initiatives to send feelers to Japan and Hong Kong to show its interest in increasing its presence in their seafood markets. In a partnership running through April 2010, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have teamed up with the Canadian Tourism Commission to export food products to South Korea.

Estelle Bryant, the mission market development officer with the Department of Agriculture in Nova Scotia opined that lobsters were a luxury product and there were only a finite number. He added that if one wanted a strong lobster industry one had to increase what one got for them, and China had the real appetite for it.

It has been observed that there was great demand for live seafood and could attract good price from the burgeoning Chinese middle class, which is annually growing by about 300,000. These days, the Chinese middle class serve expensive lobsters as a special delicacy during wedding banquets and other festivities.

Ivy Wang, who owns the consultancy business Atlantic Canada Business Network in China, felt that Canada’s seafood products were not aggressively promoted in China. Wang’s agency is collaborating with governments of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and private-sector companies for a18-month regional campaign to market frozen lobster products in China.

Canada’s exports of fish and seafood products reached around $3.7bn in 2008, and more than half of it went to the US markets. The exports to the US were up by just 2 percent from the previous year, at about $2.25bn.

The EU remained as another important market, importing $460mn, or about 14 percent of Canada’s fish and seafood products in 2008. Japan was the third largest with exports worth $294mn followed by China with exports increasing to $243mn during the same period.

Canada largely exports lobster, crab, salmon and shrimp, and these seafood products accounts for 46 percent of all fish and seafood exports by volume and 65 percent by value. Lobster remains number one, with exports in excess of one billion dollar.

By Jose Roy

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