Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2006 (Revised June 2011)

Clearwater Seafoods

by Forest L. Reinhardt and James Weber


Clearwater was trying to market value-added products in a traditionally commodities based industry while facing supply uncertainties and regulatory, environmental, and foreign exchange challenges. Clearwater harvested shellfish from the Canadian Atlantic fishery and sold this in markets around the world. They prided themselves on their sustainable fishing practices, which were not the norm for the industry. Seafood buyers traditionally bought on price. Clearwater's innovations and technology investments enabled it to produce a higher quality, value-added product, but it faced the challenge of convincing buyers to pay a premium price. Their products originated from a wild resource under government regulations which limited the size of the catch by both the industry and Clearwater. In recent years, Clearwater operated in an environment with a rising Canadian currency. This reduced profitability because Clearwater's costs were in Canadian currency while its sales where largely in other currencies. The case also discusses the challenges of maintaining a sustainable fishery and uses the collapse of the cod fishing industry as an example. Clearwater was founded in 1976, it went public in 2002, and was still managed by its two founding partners in 2006.

Keywords: Agribusiness; Profit; Goods and Commodities; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Product Marketing; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Environmental Sustainability; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Canada;


Reinhardt, Forest L., and James Weber. "Clearwater Seafoods." Harvard Business School Case 707-012, September 2006. (Revised June 2011.)