A week or so ago MacLean’s published an online article “Why Canada’s Seafood Market is so bad, and costs so much” Seafood doesn’t always get a lot of national media attention so I was anxious to see that perspective. I was surprised to discover that the “market” referred to was a literal market and not the global market (demand) for Canadian seafood.
The gist of the article is the author’s frustration that the best Canadian seafood is not available in Canada and that the seafood he can source in (I’m assuming) Toronto is not of the same quality. He also talked about how the Chinese market (particularly for lobster) developed out of the economic crisis in 2008 when seafood prices at the wharf reached price lows not seen in several decades.
I was left wondering if the quality seafood he longed for had ever been available or if it had become unavailable. The former would indicate a lack of an established market, which would lead me to question if its a lack of connections within in the industry, cost-prohibitive or timing of transportation, or some other barrier. A newly-developed lack of access would to me seem to indicate that there was a lack of established demand at the current market price. Price of seafood caught in Atlantic Canada is set in US dollars (as it is with many Canadian exports.) A lower Canadian dollar means that the price of seafood is higher in Canadian dollars whether it is sold in Canada, the United States, or China. It’s that final fact that caused me to reread the article several times. There seems to be an insinuation that Canadian seafood should be sold in Canada at a Canadian market price regardless of outside factors. I don’t expect that cars built in Ontario or oil from Alberta will be less expensive for me because it’s from Canada, so I’m not sure why we would expect that seafood would be.
While I don’t know a lot about marketing, I think there’s a huge opportunity to develop seafood markets (physical and metaphorical) within our country that would benefit both fishermen and consumers. It’s a story with exploring; I hope it’s one we get to tell someday.