Lower tariffs under the Canada-European Union trade deal will likely make selling P.E.I. fresh oysters a little easier, says the president of the European Shellfish Association.
But Richie Flynn warns the European market is a tough one to break into, even though demand for oysters is growing. Most are purchased from France, or consumers are buying local product. Canadian oysters are largely unknown.
"In terms of the profile of the Canadian product, I guess people in the know would know that there's an oyster industry in Atlantic Canada, and a very good one at that, but they wouldn't really be seeing an awful lot of them on the market as a fresh product," said Flynn.
Flynn said oyster growers in his country, Ireland, are selling to Asia because the market in Europe is so competitive. There is room, however, for specialty products.
"The whole concept of having a terroir, just like the wine industry, is becoming very strong in Europe," he said.
It always was in France and now that's extending."
He suggests P.E.I. sellers consider marketing processed oyster products, where tariffs are expected to decline 12 to 20 per cent.
Flynn said 80 per cent of all live oysters eaten in Europe are consumed around the Christmas season, and his association is trying to expand consumption to all-year-round, in part by encouraging more young people to eat oysters.