Cape Bre­ton seafood mak­ing in­roads into Asian mar­kets.

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING nancy.king@cb­

The co-op­er­a­tive ap­proach shown by Nova Sco­tia com­pa­nies on a trade mis­sion to Asia is pay­ing div­i­dends for the lo­cal seafood in­dus­try, an of­fi­cial with a Cape Bre­ton fish­eries co-op­er­a­tive says.

The At­lantic Cana­dian del­e­ga­tion tak­ing part in the trade mis­sion con­sists of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of 700 busi­nesses. The itin­er­ary in­cludes the China Fish­eries and Seafood Expo in Qing­dao, the China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo in Shang­hai, and the Canada China Busi­ness Coun­cil an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Bei­jing. In the last decade, the value of Nova Sco­tia’s ex­ports to China has grown from $54 mil­lion to $604 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

In a phone in­ter­view Fri­day from Shang­hai, Os­borne Burke, gen­eral man­ager of Vic­to­ria Co-op­er­a­tive Fish­eries Ltd., said that, in ad­di­tion to tak­ing part in trade shows, his time in Asia also in­volves tak­ing meet­ings with cus­tomers.

“The three days at the (Qing­dao) show were ex­tremely busy, the busi­est in the four or five years I’ve been go­ing there,” he said. “There was a lot of in­ter­est in prod­uct, in seafood and, in par­tic­u­lar, Canada and At­lantic Canada, we had a lot of peo­ple in at­ten­dance at the show.”

Louis­bourg Seafoods also took part in the trade mis­sion.

Burke noted that many of the Nova Sco­tian com­pa­nies who were at the trade show shared a booth and worked co-op­er­a­tively in try­ing to at­tract new busi­ness.

“It’s typ­i­cal of the Nova Sco­tians, we share the open space and we all kind of work to­gether,” Burke said. “Some­times we’ll get an in­quiry for a prod­uct we don’t carry but some­body in the other part of the booth does. If we get an in­quiry on shrimp, well, Louis­bourg Seafood has shrimp.

“It’s crit­i­cal, the net­work­ing, the work­ing to­gether and I found in the last three or four years it’s been ex­cel­lent with the group of com­pa­nies that come.”

Asia has a large pop­u­la­tion and its peo­ple have a vo­ra­cious ap­petite for seafood, Burke noted.

There was a good deal of in­ter­est shown in one of the Vic­to­ria co-op­er­a­tive’s newer prod­uct lines, the Jonah crab.

“It was a mix of meet­ing with ex­ist­ing cus­tomers to get some idea of what they’re look­ing for in the com­ing sea­son and also po­ten­tial new cus­tomers look­ing at our tra­di­tional lob­ster and snow crab, but also in our Jonah crab, of which we shipped three con­tain­ers al­ready this fall sea­son,” Burke said. “We’re hop­ing to in­crease that again next year.”

In the past five years, the co-op­er­a­tive has gone from no di­rect sales to Asian cus­tomers to an ex­pec­ta­tion of $4-5 mil­lion in sales next year, he said. The di­rect con­tact with clients in the mar­ket is crit­i­cal, Burke said.

“You’re also find­ing out what is hap­pen­ing in the area, you’re speak­ing to var­i­ous peo­ple and find­ing out what is hap­pen­ing in the mar­ket place there,” he said. “There’s a real ex­pec­ta­tion from your cus­tomers in China that you’re there, this is the big­gest show around … they’re al­ways look­ing for an over­view of where you ex­pect pric­ing to be each year.”

The clients are also pro­vid­ing them with in­for­ma­tion about what trends they are see­ing in the mar­ket.

The suc­cess of the Jonah crab line has pro­vided ad­di­tional work for the co­op­er­a­tive dur­ing a time of year when they would tra­di­tion­ally shut down, Burke noted.

In 2017, Nova Sco­tia seafood ex­ports to China climbed to $386 mil­lion. Ex­ports are up 22 per cent for the first eight months of 2018, com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

In 2017, ex­ports from Nova Sco­tia to Ja­pan were val­ued around $111 mil­lion, up from $62 mil­lion in 2009.

The trade mis­sion con­tin­ues un­til Nov. 24, although Burke is due to re­turn to Canada Satur­day.


Cape Bre­ton seafood, such as that pro­cessed at Louis­bourg Seafoods in this file photo, has been in high de­mand dur­ing a trade mis­sion to Asia.

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