BORDEN-CARLETON, Prince Edward Island, May 18 (UPI) -- China is buying lobsters from Canada's Atlantic region at a rate 30 times greater than two years ago and is one of the area's biggest customers, officials say.
After buying $1 million worth of lobster in 2010, China's purchases increased to $30 million in 2011 and are expected to continue growing.
"I believe China will become our No. 2 export customer this year," Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Belgium is the second largest buyer for Atlantic Lobster, acting as a gateway for Canadian lobster sales into Europe. The United States remains the top market.
The Chinese like big lobsters, preferring those that are 2 pounds and up, industry officials said.
By-the-Water Shellfish on Prince Edward Island ships live lobsters from Atlantic Canada to China year round.
A new call for lobsters comes from China every few days, head of sales Ryan Tremere said.
"It provides a few extra challenges. It's a 2-day shipment time but its role has become increasingly important for us and it looks like it will continue," he said.
"The growth in China will come because the economy is still growing," he said. "And seafood plays a larger role in their diet than it does in our diet."