Vic­to­ria Coop Fish­eries adapt­ing to Asian mar­ket crab pref­er­ences

The Victoria Standard - - Business - CAROLYN BAR­BER

Never judge a book by its cover goes the say­ing. The same can be said for Nova Sco­tia crab.

Vic­to­ria Coop Fish­eries (VCF) has been ex­port­ing crab di­rect to China for the past two years.

Man­ager of In­ter­na­tional Sales and Lo­gis­tics Lan Zheng has been a big part of the Coop’s di­rect sales suc­cess. Part of her job in­volves ed­u­cat­ing Asian cus­tomers about Canada’s rel­a­tively “ugly” crus­tacean. Zheng was part of a four-woman panel dur­ing the March 13 Ex­port NOW Con­fer­ence in Mem­ber­tou that dis­cussed ex­port­ing suc­cesses, chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“It’s a cos­metic pref­er­ence. It’s dif­fer­ent. Peo­ple in China, they love beau­ti­ful stuff. When they first see our crab, it’s not pretty on the out­side. They are used to the crab from Rus­sia which is red. Other than that, the meat is the same. It tastes the same,” said Zheng.

Zheng also said there is more meat in­side the crab har­vested by VCF, and un­like Rus­sian crab, is Marine Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil (MSC) cer­ti­fied.

At the last Hong Kong Seafood Show, Zheng de­vised a re-pro­cess­ing plan with Chi­nese cus­tomers to com­mence this sum­mer. VCF will ship cooked crab in the shell to China where the meat will be re­moved and pro­cessed into value-added prod­ucts, re­mov­ing the un­ap­peal­ing shell from the equa­tion. Much of the value-added crab will be sold in the Ja­panese mar­ket.

Nova Sco­tian crab isn’t the only crab judged on ap­pear­ance. Alaska Seafood Mar­ket­ing In­sti­tute has launched an aware­ness cam­paign, aptly named “Get Ugly” to ed­u­cate con­sumers about what re­ally counts – the flavour and full­ness of what’s in­side.

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