Is better branding the key to unlocking more value from Atlantic Canada’s lobster?
In late March, the fisheries ministers from Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia met to talk about instituting a fee which lobster fishers, buyers and processors would pay to fund marketing of the region’s lobsters.
But one industry organization is already looking to market lobsters differently. Bedford, Nova Scotia-based Canadian Atlantic Lobster, Inc. has developed silicon, branded bands that go around the lobster claws. The bands feature Canadian Atlantic Lobster’s logo and its website with a prominent Canadian maple leaf and would replace rubber bands that currently go on lobster claws.
Patrick Swim, CEO, Canadian Atlantic Lobster, says the band is just one marketing effort his organization is pursuing to increase the “it” factor of Atlantic Canada’s lobsters. “There is Maine lobster and they do a hell of a good job marketing it,” Swim says. “We assume that people know Nova Scotia and that it’s a lobster producer. In actual fact, around the world they don’t even know where we are.”
Swim says 73 per cent of the 160 million pounds of lobster caught annually in Atlantic Canada are exported to the United States. But once they reach the U.S. market, they aren’t necessarily sold as Canadian lobster. The Canadian Atlantic Lobster website says over 50 per cent of the catch that makes it stateside is then sold as “Maine” or “Product of the USA” lobster.
That’s a problem for anyone involved in the lobster fishing industry in Atlantic Canada, which includes 25,000 fishers and 30,000 participants in total. It’s a problem because the industry isn’t getting top dollar for a product Swim says is as good or better than any lobsters in the world. And part of the reason, Swim says, is because Atlantic Canadian lobsters are not marketed as well as those caught in Maine and New England. “It’s all about brand, whether
it’s Red Bull or Starbucks. We need to make our lobsters prettier. Let the world know we’ve got the Mercedes Benz of lobster,” Swim says.