Local producer’s Russia-bound lobsters sent back to plant - Aug. 13, 2014
Stuart McKay, the plant manager of Paturel International, holds lobster bound for Russia in this 2013 file photo. Last week, 2,000 pounds of lobster bound for Russia were diverted from shipment at JFK Airport in New York, the shipment halted due to a sudden embargo on western food products announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
business: Local companies affected by Russian ban on western imports
A shipment of 2,000 lbs of lobster from Paturel International on Deer Island was in transit to Russia when news came of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s declaration of embargo on products from western countries.
“It was just going into JFK (airport) when they made the announcement,” General Manager Stuart McKay said Friday.
Paturel has been shipping to Russia for a number of years, he said, and although it is a relatively small market compared to Europe, it is a steady one.
“No one ever likes to lose sales and there is always the potential to grow business in other countries and we would like the ability to stay there.
“It is not the end of the world but we don’t like to see it. The product was already in transit when the announcement came so it went to the airport and came back on the same truck.”
Losing that Russian business, he said, will not be a major blow to the company and will not mean any job losses at the Deer Island plant. However, Paturel has been trying to build the Russian market for several years, McKay stated.
“We have got to the point where we are shipping 6,000 lbs per week. It is a high-end item and there is a relatively small niche market there. Nonetheless it is a steady market for us.”
An official with the aquaculture industry stated that Canadian salmon farms do not export to Russia, and will not be affected.
But the Russian ban on food imports strikes a blow to Breviro Caviar, which had laid the groundwork for exporting both caviar and sturgeon to Russia.
Company president and general manager Jonathan Barry said Friday that Breviro had sent samples and even signed a contract for the export of both caviar and fish to Russia, so Putin’s move is disappointing after all the work that has been done.
“We were talking about mostly sending fish over. We had done the work and the testing and the sampling. We had sent samples over but we had not sent a big shipment. That was what we were working towards. This would have been a sizeable order of fish.”
Sturgeon is very popular in Russia, said Barry, so it was a very positive outlet for Breviro’s male sturgeon. While Russia was also interested in the company’s caviar, it is taxed at about 48 per cent so Breviro was concentrating more on the fish side.
“It was definitely a market we were very positive about. It has not hurt us when you are looking at it from a historical perspective – it is future sales. We spent a lot of time, money and effort putting this together so it is not good for us.”