Chinese Investors Show Increasing Interest in Maine’s Seafood Industry

Portland, March 22, 2017 – Chinese investors are discovering the state of Maine. Maine is located on the northeast corner of the United States, is the largest of the New England states, and is characterized by beautiful forests, rocky coastline and multitude of lakes. The state is 86 thousand square kilometers, with a population of 1.27 million. Chinese investors are not only coming for the scenery and friendly people though. Maine has a unique and booming seafood industry, the food sector itself accounts for about 8% of the state’s total output value, and is one of the largest marine aquaculture states in the US. Products include high-quality lobster, salmon, tuna and other frozen seafood products.  The lobster industry is the most famous, with an annual supply of lobsters over 45 million kg, the largest in America.

The most recent opportunity for Chinese investors to discover Maine was at the North American Seafood Exhibition on March 19th-21st. Thirty four companies from Maine participated in the event, including some well-known seafood companies like Calendar Islands, Maine Lobster and Maine Coast.

Calendar Islands and Maine Lobster specialize in semi-processed lobster products. The products are HPP processed which enables easy removal of the lobster meat from the shell. This procedure also provides the highest level of food safety without affecting the famous flavor of the Maine Lobster.

Maine Coast is a live lobster wholesaler which has a holding capacity for 180,000 pounds of live lobster. Its operations in Boston, Massachusetts provide for rapid-ship delivery worldwide via Logan Airport and specialized service to Boston and southern New England area customers.

The exhibition did not go unnoticed by Chinese enterprises, which have been looking for profitable overseas markets in recent years. There were more than 200 Chinese companies exhibiting in Boston, accounting for nearly 20% of exhibitors, including China Aquatic Products Processing & Marketing Association (CAPPMA), Asian Seafood (Zhanjiang) Co. Ltd., and Dalian Tianbao Green Foods Co. Ltd.

The rise of China’s middle class has seen a corresponding growth in Maine’s lobster exports to China. In 2010, Maine’s lobster exports to China amounted to around $100,000; by 2015, the figure reached $20,000,000. China loves Maine lobster not only for the delicious flavors, but also for the intense red shell when cooked, which is regarded as a lucky color in China. This has made Maine lobster a very popular cuisine at festivals and weddings.

Chinese consumers are actually unfamiliar with Maine lobsters. When it comes to American lobster, Chinese consumers are familiar with Boston lobster, without knowing in all likelihood the lobsters come from Maine. However, with the rising popularity of American lobsters, Chinese investors are starting to learn more about where these unique lobsters really come from. Maine lobster (spiny lobster) is wildly recognized as the best quality lobster in the US.  Unlike other types of lobster, Maine lobster has two large, fleshy, anterior claws. The lobster is mainly found in the Gulf of Maine, where the cold, pure water provides an ideal habitat. Chinese investors are learning that because Boston is the main exporting port of Maine lobster, Maine lobster is referred to as “Boston lobster.”

The growing interest and knowledge by Chinese investors has spurred growth. According to the U.S. Marine Resources Committee member Patrick Keliher, the value of Maine lobster fishing has reached the highest it has been in the past seven years.  In 2016, the total value of lobster fishing reached over 533 million USD, an increase of 30 million USD from 2015. The local economy has seen positive growth, as more investors discover Maine’s potential.  Keliher stated, “This unexpected value is the result of the growing demand from consumers, the quality of Maine lobster, and fisheries with sustainable development characteristics being recognized.”

Find out about Maine’s investment opportunities from Maine International Trade Center (MITC).  MITC has developed a new project book designed for Chinese investment attraction and soon will be available to the public. To learn more please contact, Invest in Maine representatives Maria McIntyre or Invest in Maine China representative Maggie Chin, or visit their website at http://www.investinmaine.net or at http://tractus-asia.com.