Demystification of the economy Do seafood wholesalers fill their pockets?

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Published at 4 p.m.

Natalie Morissett

Natalie Morissett
Press

Where do the huge profits of seafood wholesalers go? Or the difference between the price fishermen pay and the price consumers demand, for example, for crabs and lobsters?

Lucette Duran

“It’s never easy to say who makes a profit,” said Jean Cote, a biologist and scientific director of the Southern Gaspezi Professional Fishermen’s Association. There are cases when “there are no huge profits,” he insists.

For example, Mr. Kote recalls that at the beginning of the lobster fishing season, a fisherman received $ 8 a pound for his catch, and his price at the supermarket was $ 8.77.

“There are many different cases. It is never black or white, ”he added. A view shared by Gabriel Burgo-Foche, a researcher at the Institute for Research in Modern Economics (IRÉC).

“I am not in the secret of the gods. I do not know the margin of all intermediaries in supply chains, he admits. But there is a bias in this matter. Wholesalers are expected to make huge profits. But wholesalers do not always touch fish and seafood, there are fishermen who sell directly to restaurants or processors. »

Yes, there are profits throughout the chain, which is normal. Are there really any links that cling more than others in your pockets? We have no data to answer it.

Gabriel Burgo-Foche, researcher at the Institute for Research in Modern Economics

“It’s hard for me to say who is stuffing their pockets. It’s not us, ”said Marc-Antoine Fortier, owner of the Pêcheries Océanic fish import company. “Margins remain the same. Everything is more expensive. »

He, in particular, recalls the explosion in container prices. Prior to the pandemic, Mr. Fortier paid between $ 7,000 and $ 8,000 for a refrigerated container. Today he has to pay 30,000 US dollars.

The difference in price

Why is there a difference in the price between what fishermen pay and what is displayed in a fishmonger’s and grocery store? “This is due to the fact that there are several intermediaries who have their own operating costs at each stage,” said Mr Burgo-Foche.

The fisherman must keep his boat and pay the fisherman’s assistants. Processors must also pay their employees, maintain their buildings and pay fixed costs. And in addition to this there are delivery costs.

Supply and demand

It is obvious that supply and demand play in the equation, as in the case of the snow crab, whose price peaked at the beginning of the season, which began in March. Press reported that the first earnings sold for more than $ 38 per pound of boiled crab in Montreal compared to $ 26 last year.

“In international markets, its price is fixed. The crab is mostly sold in the United States, ”explains Gabriel Burgo-Fochet, who adds that 70% of the crab caught in Quebec is sent south to our neighbors.

Inflation, fuel prices and the absence of crabs from Russia, a major exporter, have affected the price paid by amateurs.

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