Category Archives: Uncategorized

How These 2 Entrepreneurs Turned an Urban Seafood Shack Into a $60 Million Empire

Luke Holden and Ben Conniff started a small chain of simple lobster shacks. Then they started thinking much bigger.

Step into one of the 39 Luke’s Lobster locations from New York City to Taiwan and it’s easy to pretend you’re visiting a classic New England seafood shack: Diners order at simple wooden counters, sit at rough-hewn tables, and munch on a limited (and exceedingly tasty) menu of lobster, crab, and shrimp rolls and chowders, accompanied by simple bags of potato chips. But the Saco, Maine- and Brooklyn-based company’s restaurants are actually the last step in an extensive, tightly integrated seabed-to-table operation–one that nearly broke the founders, Luke Holden and Ben Conniff, when they first attempted to set it up.

Read full article on Inc.

Once stymied by China tariff, lobster dealer finds a workaround

Tom Adams, CEO of Maine Coast lobster wholesale company in York, said he’s found ways to make up revenue that was lost when a 25% tariff was implemented last July on imports of lobster to China.

The tariff has taken a bite out of his company’s sales, Adams said. Previously, China had been Maine Coast’s fastest growing market, but the tariff eliminated 80% of Maine Coast’s sales to mainland China.

Overall, the value of live Maine lobsters exported to China dropped 64% in July 2018, compared with July 2017, industry experts said last year.

China now gets most of its lobster from Canada.

Adams told Mainebiz an aggressive marketing campaign has resulted in significant sales increases in other parts of Asia and in the U.S., and in retention of European sales even though that market was also disadvantaged by an 8% tariff over Canadian competitors. Other Asian countries include Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia.

“While we are able to make up a lot of that sales volume in different markets, it was challenging,” Adams said.

Read full article on Mainebiz


Maine exporters saw a 4% increase last year, but wonder about lost potential

Trade tensions and tariffs between the United States and key trading partners blunted what may have been a banner year for Maine exports.

The state shipped $2.8 billion worth of commodities and manufactured goods overseas in 2018, a 4 percent bump from the year before, but less than in 2016, according to federal data.

Last year was a modest gain for the state, especially amid worsening trade conditions between the U.S. and countries such as China and Canada, said Wade Merritt, president of the Maine International Trade Center. “Four percent is a good, solid year for us,” he said.

But the final result is a far cry from where Maine started out.

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

China trade war cost tops $40 billion a year in lost U.S. exports

Chinese retaliation against President Trump’s tariffs is hitting U.S. exporters harder than their Chinese counterparts and costing the U.S. the equivalent of about $40 billion a year in lost exports, according to a new study that highlights the mounting costs to the U.S. economy of the trade war against China.

U.S. tariffs imposed last year on some $250 billion in imports from China slowed shipments of the targeted products to U.S. shores, according to findings from the Institute of International Finance published earlier this year. Now, a new IIF study of China’s retaliation has found that countertariffs had a far more severe impact on U.S. exports, leading to a collapse in many of the roughly 900 categories of targeted American products.

That slump came at a real cost to the U.S. economy. In calculations done for Bloomberg, the IIF economists found that between July and November of last year, the value of lost exports topped $17 billion, according to Sergi Lanau, the IIF’s deputy chief economist. That’s an annualized hit of about $40 billion, or almost a third of the record $130 billion the U.S. exported to China in 2017.

Maine has seen the most dramatic impact from tariffs on its export of live lobster to China. Before the tariffs were imposed last summer, U.S. lobster exports were on pace to double from 2017’s $128.5 million.

But through November, U.S. exports of live lobster totaled about $137 million, slightly ahead of 2017’s annual value. About 80 percent of all U.S. lobster shipped to China is caught by Maine lobstermen.

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China lobster orders dry up, despite Lunar New Year celebrations

Lunar New Year is supposed to be the busiest time of the year for Tom Adams, whose company, Maine Coast, used to sell millions of pounds of lobster to China.

But the U.S.-China trade war has shut Maine Coast out of that market.

His old Chinese customers now buy their lobster from Canada, which can sell them a hard-shell version without the 25 percent import tariff. On a snowy Wednesday morning, on what should have been his busiest shipping day of the year, Adams waved at stacks of boxed lobsters waiting to be loaded on to cargo trucks at his newly expanded York facility and sighs.

“Last year, all of this and more would’ve been headed to China,” Adams said. “But now, we’re lucky if any of them are.”

Maine lobster dealers are struggling to manage the fallout from the U.S.-China trade war. Before the tariff, China was the second biggest importer of U.S. lobster, buying $128.5 million worth of it in 2017. The U.S. was on track to double its lobster sales to China before the tariff initiated by President Trump hit in July, according to trade data. Since then, U.S. lobster exports have all but dried up.

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

Maine must stay the course in Arctic connections

Every economic development strategy relies upon exports. Maine’s economy cannot support high-paying jobs by selling goods and services only to Mainers and the occasional tourist. Continued growth requires us to look outside our borders. Now, more than ever, it is essential that we look to the north.

By almost all measures, growth in Maine exports outstripped the growth in GDP over the last five years. While some of that growth can be attributed to the demand in our cherished water-bugs, much of it came from commodities that have nothing to do with seafood. The growth in Maine exports highlights a key win of the LePage administration and what should be an important priority for the Mills administration: port and rail infrastructure investment.

Read full article on BDN Maine

Lobster exporters looking around the world for new markets to stem losses

Sales to China and Europe are down, so Maine dealers are hustling for new customers and finding them in Southeast Asia.

The U.S. lobster industry is on the hunt for new consumers, pitching live lobster to Southeast Asia’s growing middle class and gourmet lobster rolls to Berlin foodies.

American dealers are trying to offset market losses caused by unfavorable tariffs in China and Europe. Live lobster sales from the U.S. to China had been on pace to double in 2018 until China slapped a 25 percent tariff on lobster in July and the Maine-to-China lobster gusher sputtered out. Year-to-date exports to Europe are down by 34 percent, too, as a result of a trade deal that gives Canadian dealers preferential access to that market.

“We’ve seen turmoil in the overseas lobster market, but we’ve also seen resilience in this industry,” said Colleen Coyne of Food Export USA-Northeast, an agency that helps regional food exporters promote their products. “The U.S. lobster industry knows how to build markets. We obviously hope that China and Europe come back, but until they do, the industry is going to do what it does best: develop new products and new markets.”

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

Maine retailers could benefit as duty-free threshold rises in post-NAFTA deal

Maine retailers that ship products to Canada could see a sales boost under a new North American free trade deal.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the proposed successor to NAFTA, would allow the first $150 (Canadian) of goods bought in the U.S. and shipped to Canada to be duty-free. It also exempts the first $40 from Canadian sales tax.

The current duty-free threshold is only $20 (Canadian), or about $15 (U.S.).

Read full article on Portland Press Herald