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This St Thomas, Ont., couple expects to move 20,000 pounds of fish by Good Friday

The coronavirus crisis might stop us from getting together indoors this Easter, but it can't stop the traditional Good Friday meal: fish.

Matt and Meg McTaggart own the largest fish wholesaler in London region.

This St Thomas, Ont., couple expects to move 20,000 pounds of fish by Good Friday

2 years ago
Duration 2:21
Meg and Matt McTaggart are the husband-and-wife co-owners of Steelhead Food Co in St Thomas, Ont.

Good Friday has long been one of the biggest days of the year for fish, with families across the country either preparing the traditional meal at home or ordering take out. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, it's been no different, despite the fact the deadly virus has kept families who traditionally gather on Easter at a distance. 

Like some butchers, who've been working double time through the pandemic to keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for meat, the demand for fish has been no different. The anxiety-provoking days of waiting out a deadly illness that's swept the globe has meant people are hankering for comfort food like never before. 

It's why Matt and Meg McTaggart, the husband and wife co-owners of Steelhead Food Co, are bracing for one of their busiest days of the year. 

A worker processes Lake Erie perch at Steelhead Food Co. Perch and pickerel are the two most popular fish sold by the St Thomas, Ont., based business over the Easter weekend. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

"It's definitely one of the biggest fish days of the year," said Matt McTaggart, who said their St Thomas fish market will see up to 400 customers come through the store over the next two days, buying up to 5,000 pounds of fish. 

Another 15,000 pounds will be sold to restaurants and wholesalers, bringing the total to 20,000 pounds (the same weight as a garbage truck) between Wednesday and Friday. 

While some businesses are floundering during the pandemic, the McTaggart's fish business has been flourishing, all thanks to what seems to be a renewed demand for fish products brought on by the pandemic. 

"We've heard that across the board, from the grocery stores we supply as well, that demand for their products has just gone up since COVID. In that sense we've been really lucky." said Meg McTaggart. 

"We've been extremely busy, which is not what we expected." 

Meg and McTaggart are the husband and wife co-owners of Steelhead Food Co in St Thomas, one of only two fish wholesalers in southwestern Ontario. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

She said with demand up significantly, the business has expanded, hiring a number of employees and taking on fish processing for a commercial fishing operation on Lake Erie. 

"We took on a boat and started packing huge quantities of lake products, so perch and pickerel," Meg McTaggart, who said the support from retail and commercial customers has been outstanding throughout the pandemic. 

"We obviously wouldn't be here without any of those people. We're really lucky to have survived this and flourished through it as well." 

Steelhead Food Co has found demand for fish has risen during the pandemic, allowing the company to expand its fish processing operations. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Colin Butler

Reporter

Colin Butler covers the environment, real estate, justice as well as urban and rural affairs for CBC News in London, Ont. He is a veteran journalist with 20 years' experience in print, radio and television in seven Canadian cities. You can email him at colin.butler@cbc.ca.

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