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Outlook 2017: East Coast Seafood CEO Michael Tourkistas

Rising lobster prices may impact industry efficiencies, consolidation.

As East Coast Seafood CEO and President Michael Tourkistas prepares to hand over the torch, he looks back at this last year and forward to a future built around value-adding, automation and expansion.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts-based company announced Tourkistas will step down from his role as CEO, but there's no rush as they aim to be “careful in the selection process of a new CEO,” Tourkistas said.

What were the three most significant developments for your business in the seafood industry in 2016?

Higher shore prices for 2016 would be at the top of the list. For over two years now we have seen historically high lobster prices, which has put immense pressure on margins. The impact of this means potentially less industry capital which may continue consolidation and efficiencies for the industry.

Continued high price of lobster meat was a surprise. At the beginning of the year, we expected to see prices move downward and that did not happen. Although we've seen some softening in pricing for the last quarter, it is difficult to comment on pricing for the upcoming year, as demand is still very strong.

This year brought a lot of focus to the regulatory side of our business with the invasive species issue in Sweden and signed agreement for future reduction of tariffs going into Europe. In addition, the US election is significant and the industry awaits possible outcomes to trade with China and Russia.

What will be the three most important developments in 2017?

Increase and development of new seafood retail products, from the seafood community as a whole. Consumers are driving this demand for value-added and [the] industry is responding to a shift on the consumer side of the industry.

Increased demand from Asia and revitalization of Europe, both changing the international demand dynamic.

Willingness to collaborate all along the supply chain. The seafood industry is filled with people with passion for the business and their respective companies. East Coast Seafood is certainly one of them.

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