© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Fishermen stressing price over marketing amid fears of no changes as season nears
The virtuous circle is what drives profitability and consumer satisfaction in many industries and it’s no different in the lobster fishery. We depend on fishermen to land a quality product, which is then purchased and sold in top condition to a consumer who will appreciate the price and quality and look for more. Each of the three main cogs in that wheel depend heavily on the other. While it starts with the fishermen and ends on the consumer’s plate, there are many stops in between which determine success or failure in the marketplace.
The spat on the weekend during the P.E.I Fishermen’s Association annual meeting saw two factions square off in an unnecessary standoff. The PEIFA is concerned with price while the Lobster Council of Canada is concerned with marketing and their differences spilled over during the meeting. The average fisherman looks on and is increasingly worried that the spring lobster season opens in just over seven weeks, and except for the possibility of a one cent per pound marketing levy, it seems not much has changed from a year ago. No one wants a repeat of the calamitous spring of 2013.
Everyone has a role to play in turning around this vitally important sector. Fishermen must deliver the freshest product in the best condition possible to the buyer. Marketing must improve to sell more lobster to more people at a price people will support. The consumer must get past a rigid view that lobster is a luxury dish to be consumed several times a year instead of being a regular part of our diet.
Fishermen are anxious to get some kind of base price before they set sail April 30. They don’t want to be surprised and disappointed with a price below the cost of production a week or two into the season and then scramble to scratch out a razor-thin profit for the next six or seven weeks. More trouble is brewing.
A poll conducted in 2013 for the PEIFA indicates a large part of the problem lives right here in Atlantic Canada. Consumers are out of touch with the reality existing inside the lobster industry. Many think lobster prices remained the same during the past five years, are unaware of landing prices and believe fishermen receive lots of government support. It appears any marketing campaign has to be redirected at Atlantic Canadians. As Red Lobster advertises so effectively, we have to ‘seafood differently.’
Jack is back
The Jack Frost Children’s Winterfest made a successful return to Charlottetown last weekend, leaving one to wonder how it was the city ever allowed it to slip away for a year? There was lots of snow down, a little more fell Sunday and it was cold enough that ice sculptures and other dazzling winter displays were in no danger of melting at the whim of a fickle Mother Nature.
There was some apprehension that the later start this year might see issues with milder weather in early March but certainly not last weekend and not this winter. Organizers were a little late getting things going after Strait Crossing Bridge Ltd. and other sponsors stepped forward to resurrect the popular children’s winter festival but all reports indicate it was the most successful festival in history with a number of sellouts to various events.
Islander Day weekend wasn’t the same without Jack Frost last year and again last month. Hopefully the festival will return to the same weekend as the provincial winter holiday in 2015. Kudos goes to the Confederation Bridge, ACOA, the province, the capital city and other sponsors for stepping forward to entertain thousands of children and their families.