Gourmet New Brunswick seafood making waves across border

Miramichi — Gourmet seafoods like lobster and caviar sold out of the back of Bradley Thompson’s ’98 Honda Civic are quickly becoming one of the province’s biggest exports, with Thompson’s company CHEEP SEAFOOD recently ranking 3rd on Progressmedia.ca’s list of “Top Companies Based in Atlantic Canada.”

“I fill the back of this here car with all the lobster, n’ fish n’ all the stuff that’ll fit,” said Thompson. “The missus don’t like the smell too good, but she ain’t complain’ about the money that I’m bringin’ home, I kin tell yah that.” With this, he gave a bellowing laugh that shook the 17-year-old economy vehicle.

Born in Chatham, Thompson has been a professional fisherman and seafood supplier for 48 of his 53 years, and has never had any trouble getting bites from local restaurants. However, it has only been in the past few months that he has discovered that some foods commonplace here in New Brunswick may be considered something of a delicacy across the border.

He decided early on not to invest too much in advertising for his products, and opted instead to simply write “LOBTER & CAVIER SOLED HERE” onto a piece of cardboard in black marker, and stick it in the back window of his car. This maximizes the returns on the seafood itself, since he says that he “don’t have much trouble sellin’ ‘er, anyway.”

Possibly what is key to the company’s success is the fact Thompson’s prices remain competitive, despite the recent popularity of the brand. “I sell ‘er fer about a buck-fifty fer a bag of fish eggs, and a good lobster goes ‘fer around 2 bucks.”

The high quality and low price of Thompson’s brand has roped him a deal with American seafood chain Red Lobster, making him the chain’s primary supplier — and one of the province’s richest people. “They’re like: ‘kin you supply us wit that there lobster, here,’ and I says ‘yep,’” he explained. The deal will net Thompson a cool $800 million over a 2-year period.

When asked what he planed to do with the money, Thompson grinned, exposing a row of yellowing teeth. “I’ll give ol’ Bessie here a nice wash-down at the Irving,” he said, affectionately patting his dashboard.

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