Nova Scotia

Europe lobster sales exceed expectations

Eighty tonnes of lobster were shipped to Europe Wednesday despite the region's recent economic woes.

New climate-controlled storage at both ends smoothes process.

Wednesday was the most important day of the year for international lobster shipments.

Eighty tonnes of the crustacean was shipped to Europe from Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Demand is strong on the continent despite its recent economic woes.

Geoff Irvine of Lobster Council of Canada said European Christmas orders are crucial for Nova Scotia's most lucrative fishery.

"Today is the 21st of December. This is the key shipping day to get to Europe tomorrow to be distributed … for Christmas," he said.

Mike Wolthers, a shipper with Kintetsu World Express, said European demand has been stronger than expected.

"Lobster at Christmas is a feel-good product. They have it instead of turkey," he said.

"Sales have been good. We've talked to customers as late as this morning and they're anticipating at least as much demand as in previous years and possibly even more."

Wolthers said there has been a significant change this year in shipping patterns. Last year there was twice as much lobster moved during the week before Christmas.

This year, shipments have been spread more evenly throughout December because European importers have upgraded their facilities.

"We started seeing fairly large shipments beginning as early as the tenth and eleventh of December and they're moving product in and putting it into their storage facilities so they have it on these keys days," said Wolthers.

Nova Scotia also has its own climate-controlled distribution centre, Gateway Facilities, at the Halifax airport. Shipper Steven Christiansen said the facility makes for a better product.

"The product lasts longer and when it finally arrives into Europe it's in good condition," he said.

There will be another 80-tonne lobster shipment to Europe on Boxing Day in preparation for New Year's Day celebrations.