News Release Archive


The Nova Scotia lobster, a delicacy that commands top dollar,
pound, franc and yen in some of the finest restaurants in the
world, is experiencing a shift in markets that is helping Nova
Scotia suppliers diversify sales and build a wider customer base.

Live lobster is one of Nova Scotia's top products, exported to
over 40 countries. Export values reached $229.6 million in 1995,
a 41 per cent increase compared to 1992. Nova Scotia suppliers
continue to sell product to traditional markets in the United
States, France, and the United Kingdom, but sales are shooting up
in new markets, particularly in Asia and Europe.

"The global market for seafood products is dynamic, always moving
according to prices, availability of product, and trends in
consumer tastes," said Fisheries Minister Jim Barkhouse.

Nova Scotia lobster companies have been aggressively pursuing new
markets. While the United States continues to be the major
market, with sales valued at $136 million in 1995, Pacific rim
countries have been a focus for the last 10 years.

In the late 1980s, Japan was considered the fastest growing
market for seafood. Per capita seafood consumption in Japan
averages about 66 kilograms per year compared to the Canadian
level of about seven. In the 1990s, sales of live lobster to
Japan have remained steady with exports totalling $6.3 million in

Now, other Asian-Pacific countries are hot spots of economic
growth. Hong Kong and South Korea are two new markets that have
shown phenomenal increases in recent years.

The value of live lobster exports to Hong Kong grew 10 fold from
less than 31,000 kilograms valued at about $500,000 in 1992 to
778,000 kilograms valued at $13.3 million in 1995.

Similarly, Nova Scotia suppliers shipped slightly more than
10,000 kilograms of live lobster valued at $172,000 to South
Korea in 1992. In 1995, suppliers exported 236,000 kilograms for
a value of over $4 million.

Europe continues to be an important market where sales represent
24 per cent of total lobster exports; however, since the
beginning of the decade, the market has been shifting from
northern to southern Europe.

For example, the volume of live lobster to France has dropped in
recent years as shippers seek markets that are less dependant on
pricing. Given strong prices, however, the value of live lobster
sales to France has remained fairly steady. Losses in France has
been compensated by gains in Spain and Italy, two relatively new
markets showing strong growth.

The Spanish are shellfish lovers. All major restaurants offer
live shellfish, in particular the langouste, an expensive,
warm-water crayfish. Spanish consumers initially required some
familiarization with the Nova Scotia product, but they are now
quite receptive, and its price is very competitive against the
langouste. Spain still offers excellent potential for continued
market growth.

Success has not come easily. Seafood suppliers have had to work
hard to provide consistent supplies, ensure product quality,
establish good distribution systems, and fight for air space
against competitive U.S. shippers, the minister said.

Nova Scotia lobster suppliers have worked hard to improve
handling and packaging of the product to ensure that it arrives
to the buyer in top condition. Buyers view Nova Scotia lobster as
a value-priced, quality product with excellent availability.

Aggressive product promotion has been the key to successful
sales. Nova Scotia seafood companies travel to many new markets
to get a first-hand understanding of specific needs of
distributors and users and to help them become familiar on
handling and preparing the product. Chefs, for instance, are more
inclined to put a new product on their menu if they have a good
understanding of how to handle and prepare it.

Maintaining freshness is especially critical for a live product.
Suppliers often find themselves educating distributors and
restauranteurs on the finer points of setting up cold-water
aquariums and keeping live Atlantic lobster.

Equally important in the promotion of Nova Scotia lobster has
been its identity as a product of Canada. Canadian seafood is
recognized worldwide for its exceptional quality, and Canada has
a good reputation as a reliable and trusted supplier.

Federal and provincial governments team up with Nova Scotia
companies on special promotional events to introduce a product to
a new market. Canadian food fairs, organized in conjunction with
Canadian embassies abroad and local buyers, have been especially
successful in Asia.

While Nova Scotia specializes in live lobster, an increasing
number of companies are producing quality, frozen product such as
lobster tails, claws, and canned meat. The design of new products
has followed closely customer preferences and usages in these new

That's good news for Nova Scotia. Lobster is the number fishery
in the province and Nova Scotia has the leading lobster fishery
in the country, with a landed value of some $ 206 million in
1995. Lobster is the bread-and-butter fishery for coastal
communities around the province. With the strides made in the
marketing of live lobster and more recently value-added products,
Nova Scotia is determined to remain in the lead, said Mr.


Contact: Diane Kenny  902-424-0308

trp                    Nov. 20, 1996 - 10:35 a.m.