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Clearwater Seafoods ships Atlantic Canada flavours to the world

Special storage facilities for lobsters


For Canadian soldiers serving in the Persian Gulf in December 1990, it was a welcome taste of Atlantic Canada on Christmas Eve.

Clearwater Seafoods flew 10,000 live lobsters to the Gulf for a Christmas dinner for Canadian Armed Forces members who were away from family.

Today, the Bedford, Nova Scotia-based company has more than $600 million in annual sales, some 1,900 employees in seven countries, and it exports its premium-quality seafood around the world.

With the tag line, “remarkable seafood, responsible choice”, it’s no wonder the company exported 93 million pounds of seafood to more than 50 countries in 2018.

“Pure, natural, high-quality, healthy and sustainably sourced seafood, that’s exactly what our company is,” Global Marketing Vice-President Don Holdsworth says. “I’m proud to feed my family Clearwater seafood.”

Special storage facilities for lobsters
Clearwater Seafoods has a patented dryland storage facility that can hold 1.5 million pounds of live lobsters.

The company got its start in 1976 when two friends, John Risley and Colin MacDonald, began selling lobsters from the back of a pickup truck. From those humble beginnings, Risley and MacDonald’s strong entrepreneurial spirit helped to transform the business into a global operation.

Amidst that success, they are mindful of their roots and the First Nations communities located near their business operations.

In March 2019, Clearwater Seafoods announced a landmark reconciliation agreement with 14 First Nations communities. It forges a 50-year partnership that is geared toward protecting existing jobs in the Arctic surf clam fishery while creating new opportunities for members of the 14 First Nations.

Most of the company’s harvesting and processing operations are set up in rural communities, which brings meaningful employment to regions that have struggled economically.

Clearwater Seafoods Captain Danny Nowe
Clearwater Seafoods Captain Danny Nowe.

Clearwater Seafoods is also an innovator. Its patented dryland storage facility can hold 1.5 million pounds of live lobsters, making it the largest system of its kind in the world. The lobster hotel, as the company calls it, mimics a lobster's natural environment. And it’s a game changer; no longer is the lobster industry seasonal.

Clearwater Seafoods understands that its customers want to know where their food comes from, right down to who helped get the shellfish from the ocean bottom to the dinner plate.

The company’s product packaging incorporates images of employees who help find, package and deliver quality seafood around the world.

Meet Kevin Swimm. The son of a fisherman and captain of an Arctic surf clam harvesting vessel, he spends up to 35 days at a time at sea with his crew.

Sydney Newell is Clearwater’s first female fleet officer and she works on one of its scallop and research ships.

Captain Danny Nowes has fishing in his blood and a long family history in the Nova Scotia seafood industry.

Clearwater even has its very own culinary staff. Chef Stefan Czapalay partners with restaurants and distribution chains to develop recipes such as lobster Florentine, sea scallop truffled ratatouille with clementine beurre blanc and clam crepes.

A gourmet seafood dish
Clearwater Seafoods has its own chef who partners with restaurants and distribution chains to develop recipes

Thanks to Canada’s trade agreements, the Clearwater kitchen can help customers around the world make the most Instagram-worthy seafood dishes that will impress.

Holdsworth expects that Canada’s trade pact with the European Union, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, will lead to even faster growth in the European market for Clearwater Seafoods. Around 40% of Clearwater sales go to Europe.

“We’ve definitely seen an uptake in our European sales,” Holdsworth says, citing increased demand for Canadian lobster from Italy, Spain, France and Portugal.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership with countries of the Asia-Pacific region has also boosted sales for Clearwater Seafood.

The company has already established business in Japan, but the Asia-Pacific agreement is giving them a competitive edge by helping to lower the cost for Clearwater’s customers.

Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service has also helped Clearwater Seafoods expand into new markets by connecting it with the right people and setting up meetings.

The Trade Commissioner Service is Canada’s global sales force that helps companies like Clearwater bring their delicious seafood to the rest of the world.

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