Pandemic hasn’t slowed China’s love for US lobster

A lobster rears its claws after being caught off Spruce Head, Maine, Aug. 31, 2021. (AP)
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A lobster rears its claws after being caught off Spruce Head, Maine, Aug. 31, 2021. (AP)
Pandemic hasn’t slowed China’s love for US lobster
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Lobsters are packed for shipment at the Lobster Company in Kennebunkport, Maine, March 13, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 18 January 2022

Pandemic hasn’t slowed China’s love for US lobster

A lobster rears its claws after being caught off Spruce Head, Maine, Aug. 31, 2021. (AP)
  • American exporters sent more than 13.2 million pounds (6 million kilograms) of lobster to China during the first 11 months of 2021

PORTLAND, Maine: China is showing no signs of slowing its demand for American lobster this year despite disruption to the supply chain and international trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese demand for the crustaceans grew dramatically during the 2010s in part because of the expansion of the country’s middle class. The lobsters are especially sought after in winter because they are a popular delicacy on Chinese New Year, which is Feb. 1 this year.
American exporters sent more than 13.2 million pounds (6 million kilograms) of lobster to China during the first 11 months of 2021. That was about 6 percent more than the same time period the previous year.
The pandemic has made the already difficult task of sending live seafood across the globe more challenging, but Maine lobster exporters are gearing up for a decent Chinese New Year, said Bill Bruns. The operations manager at The Lobster Co. in Arundel said shipments are complicated by the fact the company can’t send lobsters to Beijing because of COVID-19 restrictions — but they are able to send to other airports, such as Shenzhen.
“Chinese New Year is always a crapshoot the last couple years,” Bruns said. “But I’m prepared for it. I have the staff. Because otherwise it’s going to be a long spring.”
China buys lobsters from the US — where the industry is based mostly in Maine — and Canada, where the industry is situated in the Atlantic provinces. Exports from Canada were up even more than the US the first 11 months of 2021 compared to 2020, said John Sackton, an industry analyst and founder of SeafoodNews.com.
Signs point to a strong season for the industry, Sackton said. Consumption of seafood could also get a boost from the Beijing Winter Olympics, which are set to start a few days after Chinese New Year, he said.
“I’ve seen nothing that consumption of lobsters at Chinese New Year this year won’t exceed last year’s,” Sackton said.
The US lobster industry weathered similar challenges during the first year of the pandemic in 2020 and ultimately had a strong export season. The value of exports was down from the record year of 2018, but still well over $100 million.
High prices for lobsters have played a role in the value of this year’s exports. The price of a live 1.25-pound hard shell lobster was $11.25 per pound in New England this month, according to business publishing company Urner Barry. That was more than a third higher than January 2021.
To send lobsters to China, American and Canadian fishermen have to trap them in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Bad weather has made that difficult for Maine fishermen this year, but harvesters are still having a decent winter on the water, said Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
“When guys get out there, they are doing OK,” Porter said. “It takes someone hardier than me to fish the wintertime.”


EXPLAINER: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe

EXPLAINER: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe
Updated 19 May 2022

EXPLAINER: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe

EXPLAINER: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe

LONDON: A handful of cases of monkeypox have now been reported or are suspected in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain.
The outbreaks are raising alarm because the disease mostly occurs in west and central Africa, and only very occasionally spreads elsewhere.
Here’s what scientists know so far.

’Highly unusual’
Monkeypox is a virus that causes fever symptoms as well as a distinctive bumpy rash. It is usually mild, although there are two main strains: the Congo strain, which is more severe – with up to 10 percent mortality – and the West African strain, which has a fatality rate of more like 1 percent of cases. The UK cases are least have been reported as the West African strain.
“Historically, there have been very few cases exported. It has only happened eight times in the past before this year,” said Jimmy Whitworth, a professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who said it was “highly unusual.”
Portugal has logged five confirmed cases, and Spain is testing 23 potential cases. Neither country has reported cases before.

Transmission
The virus spreads through close contact, both in spillovers from animal hosts and, less commonly, between humans. It was first found in monkeys in 1958, hence the name, although rodents are now seen as the main source of transmission.
Transmission this time is puzzling experts, because a number of the cases in the United Kingdom — nine as of May 18 — have no known connection with each other. Only the first case reported on May 6 had recently traveled to Nigeria.
As such, experts have warned of wider transmission if cases have gone unreported.
The UK Health Security Agency’s alert also highlighted that the recent cases were predominantly among men who self-identified as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men, and advised those groups to be alert.
Scientists will now sequence the virus to see if they are linked, the World Health Organization (WHO) said this week.

Why not?
One likely scenario behind the increase in cases is increased travel as COVID restrictions are lifted.
“My working theory would be that there’s a lot of it about in west and central Africa, travel has resumed, and that’s why we are seeing more cases,” said Whitworth.
Monkeypox puts virologists on the alert because it is in the smallpox family, although it causes less serious illness.
Smallpox was eradicated by vaccination in 1980, and the shot has been phased out. But it also protects against monkeypox, and so the winding down of vaccination campaigns has led to a jump in monkeypox cases, according to Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA in California.
But experts urged people not to panic.
“This isn’t going to cause a nationwide epidemic like COVID did, but it’s a serious outbreak of a serious disease – and we should take it seriously,” said Whitworth.


Where We are Going Today: Bonny Cafe

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 18 May 2022

Where We are Going Today: Bonny Cafe

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  • The food and beverage market witnessed considerable growth in Saudi Arabia after the launch Vision 2030 program

Bonny Cafe in Jeddah is a Saudi brand offering freshly made specialty coffees.
Using a range of beans such as Colombian, Ethiopian, and Yemini, the outlet regularly changes its coffee menu with tastes from around the world.
It also has a breakfast menu, with its best-seller being French toast. Other dishes, served throughout the day until midnight, include turkey bacon and egg, and chicken sandwiches, turkey rolls, and arugula salads. Fresh pineapple iced tea is a customer favorite.
Set in modern, relaxing surroundings, the cafe offers private rooms for meetings and other gatherings.
The food and beverage market witnessed considerable growth in Saudi Arabia after the launch Vision 2030 program.
With a population of more than 32 million, international and local companies are now competing to enter the market in this sector.
The entertainment industry and the increased number of sports events and concerts in the Kingdom also positively impacts the food sector.
This growth already appears in increased mobile delivery applications, food trucks, and international and local cafes in large cities such as Jeddah and Riyadh.
Cafes have proved popular, especially among millennials. For more information about Bonny Cafe, visit the cafe’s Instagram account at @bonnysplty.

 


What We Are Eating Today: The Peak

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Photo/Supplied
Updated 15 May 2022

What We Are Eating Today: The Peak

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  • The box includes six slices of meat, a bottle of special sauce, cheddar cheese slices and six burger buns with or without sesame seeds, as well as salt and pepper

Summertime and the grilling is easy, so go for a burger experience with a difference at The Peak, a new restaurant in Alkhobar city.
The Peak offers healthier options than your average fast-food outlet by using fresh beef and chicken and maintaining the right balance between meat and fat to create the best flavor.
Their signature order is the cheesy peak burger with one of their special sauces — spicy, maple, ranch, or spicy peanut.
They also offer very delicious fries with the restaurant’s special seasonings.
The menu is straightforward, but this allows you to enjoy customizing your orders.
For a bigger portion, go for the double peak burger, which looks like a blooming flower of extra taste, oozing cheese and soft bun. Aside from savories and burgers, the restaurant offers a range of ice creams, such as custard and muhalabiah, inspired by Mideastern culture and garnished with crushed pistachio and dried rose petals.
As beach picnics are all the rage in the Saudi Arabian summer, The Peak offers you a barbecue box for six people to get the most from your session on the grill. The box includes six slices of meat, a bottle of special sauce, cheddar cheese slices and six burger buns with or without sesame seeds, as well as salt and pepper. All you will need is a grill and good company to enjoy the day.
For more information visit their Instagram account @thepeak.sa.


Secret ingredient is love as Saudi grandmother shares her culinary skills with the world

Saudi grandmother Nijat Abdulmajeed, middle, with her daughter Basmah Omair, right, and granddaughter Shahad Nejaim.
Saudi grandmother Nijat Abdulmajeed, middle, with her daughter Basmah Omair, right, and granddaughter Shahad Nejaim.
Updated 15 May 2022

Secret ingredient is love as Saudi grandmother shares her culinary skills with the world

Saudi grandmother Nijat Abdulmajeed, middle, with her daughter Basmah Omair, right, and granddaughter Shahad Nejaim.
  • Rather than simply passing on her knowledge of Arab food to her own family, Nijat Abdulmajeed is targeting a global audience through Instagram

JEDDAH: Saudi grandmother Nijat Abdulmajeed from Jeddah is on a mission to pass on the culinary knowledge and skills she has accumulated during a lifetime of preparing authentic Arab food, not only to her own children and grandchildren but to all Saudis and other people around the world.

Her granddaughter, Shahad Nejaim, said that her grandmother’s cooking has always been an important way in which she shows her love for family and friends.

This was confirmed by Abdulmajeed’s daughter and Nejaim's mother, Basmah Omair, who said: “Her cooking means home and love to me … and meals are the way we express love in this house.”

After deciding that it would be a good idea to pass on the wealth of cooking knowledge and experience she has gained over the years, Abdulmajeed decided to share her recipes, tricks and tips for making some of the most delicious and authentic Arab dishes not only with her family but with the whole world on Instagram, where she goes by the name @annati_1.

For Arab News she made fatteh bazinjan, a dish that includes eggplant, ground meat, fried bread and yogurt, and is topped with pine nuts and pomegranate. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

"Anna" is something you call a grandmother, the "Ti" at the end of the word shows possession, Nejaim said that as kids, Nejaim and her cousins would argue saying "she is my Anna, no, she is my Anna." When deciding the name for her Instagram they decided to make her everyone's grandmother, hence the name "Annati."

“We wanted to document her cooking for the grandchildren only but my mom thought that we could pass on the knowledge to the whole younger generation,” Omair said.

HIGHLIGHT

‘Anna’ is something you call a grandmother, the ‘Ti’ at the end of the word shows possession, Nejaim said that as kids, Nejaim and her cousins would argue saying ‘she is my Anna, no, she is my Anna.’ When deciding the name for her Instagram they decided to make her everyone’s grandmother, hence the name ‘Annati.’

“She was the force behind the idea of putting videos on Instagram. She told me that it might work or it might not but we have nothing to lose.”

Abdulmajeed and her family invited a team from Arab News into their home to watch her in action in the kitchen and see how food is an integral part of the loving bond she shares with her children and grandchildren.

Immediately, it was obvious that she exudes an aura of warmth and love that envelopes not only her own family but their guests as well. It was also obviously important to her that her visitors were well fed and understood the value she places on family.

For Arab News she made fatteh bazinjan, a dish that includes eggplant, ground meat, fried bread and yogurt, and is topped with pine nuts and pomegranate. One of the key ingredients is pomegranate molasses, which is a favorite of Abdulmajeed. As she prepared the meal, she encouraged her guests to sample the individual ingredients to understand each element before they all came together in the finished dish

Abdulmajeed said that through the years people had often told her that she should write a recipe book or make a cookery show.

“But at that time I was busy with my life and children,” she said. “Only now have I got some time in my life and have begun sharing my recipes on Instagram.”

She said that she most enjoys making savory Arabic dishes but also dabbles in desserts and other cuisines from around the world.

Abdulmajeed revealed that when she moved to the US for the education of her children she was determined to ensure her children remained connected to their roots and culture, including its cuisine.

“So, I started making everything at home, by myself, from scratch,” she added.

Her daughter and granddaughter agreed that many of their most cherished memories of Abdulmajeed revolve around food: The meals their "Anna" cooked for them, or being in the kitchen with her and learning how to cook.

“One of my favorite memories is from when we were living in the US and my father would open our door to anyone who was a student, or was living without their family, to come for futoor (iftar), so it was an open-house invitation,” said Omair.

Nejaim said that she loves Arab cuisine.

“For others, comfort food might be mac and cheese or fries; for me it’s anything with dibs rumman (pomegranate molasses) in it,” she added. “(My grandmother’s) dishes are like when you want to hug someone and you can’t give them a hug, so you go to the kitchen and try and recreate the feeling.”

She said that the experience of learning how to cook from her grandmother involved a process of unlearning what she thought she knew and learning to trust her instincts.

“I was really precise, as I liked to bake, but she just refused to let me use measurements and instead encouraged me go with my gut feeling,” said Nejaim.

“So, it was a learning curve for me. It was a very special experience. It was beyond a culinary experience; I feel like I was getting a piece of her that I will keep with me and hand it down to my own children.”

Abdulmajeed said that Arabic food can take a very long time to cook and many young people don’t like spending that amount of time on preparing food.

“I try to tell them that there are ways in which you can prepare in advance that help cut down the time, and when you come home tired you can make it for yourself,” she said.

Looking to the future, the family plans to organize online classes especially for younger people to teach them how to prepare ingredients in advance and make the cooking process easier.

“I am enjoying sharing (my mother) with the world,” said Omair, her eyes filling with tears. “I think she deserves to be acknowledged for the mother she is and the knowledge she has. When you have the knowledge, you can’t just hold on to it.”

Beyond her cooking tips, Abdulmajeed has some other important advice to pass on to families.

“I gave my whole life to keeping my family close to me and being the best mother and grandmother I could possibly be,” she said. “I became their friend and I have no regrets about devoting my life to my children. I think that family should always be a priority.”

Omair said another important lesson she learned from her mother is that it is never too late to start something new that one is passionate about and that it is important stop being a perfectionist and not be afraid to take risks.

“Being with my mom has allowed me to enjoy what I want to do instead of waiting until I absolutely knew that the outcome would be perfect,” she said.

 


Middle East must address prevalence of allergies

Middle East must address prevalence of allergies
Updated 14 May 2022

Middle East must address prevalence of allergies

Middle East must address prevalence of allergies

DUBAI: It is a well-established fact that the incidence of allergies worldwide has increased significantly over the last few years, leading to worsening mortality and morbidity.

It is estimated that allergies affect nearly 40 percent of the global population. But this is a conservative figure given the lack of reliable data, mainly due to regional or national disparities in dealing with an issue that the World Allergy Organization has described as a “major healthcare problem.” As such, researchers cannot fully understand regional variances in incidence and prevalence, or socioeconomic impacts.

A study of adults in Saudi Arabia has revealed an incidence of self-reported food allergies of 19.7 percent, with the main allergens being eggs, shellfish, fish and peanuts. The incidence of asthma in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait is 13.5 percent, over 20 percent and 18 percent respectively. Due to weather conditions in the UAE, airborne pathologies, including asthma, are growing faster than other allergies.

It is important to understand the economic impact of allergies. Given that the number of people affected worldwide is in the hundreds of millions and rising, it is obvious that the financial impact is significant. A market research analysis published in 2020 showed that the global allergy-treatment market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2025.

The need to improve allergy awareness in the Middle East is paramount, particularly given countries’ significant efforts to increase their socioeconomic status. And when people in the Middle East visit other regions with stronger policies regarding allergies, they are more likely to want the same assurances back home.

The sooner Middle Eastern countries act, the better. Those that do not have national allergy organizations should establish them. And as regional travel has increased, cross-border coordination is all the more important so travelers can experience consistency and feel safe. Establishing a Middle Eastern Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology would be the perfect way to develop such coordination.

Moving forward is a matter of will, not wealth. The longer that takes, the more costly it will be in terms of lives and money.

Dr José Costa MD FRCPCH PGCert Paed Allergy (ICS Lisbon) PGCert Allergy (Imperial College)

Consultant Paediatrician in Allergy

Member of the Standards of Care Committee of the BSACI

National and Regional advisor for Paediatrics and Allergy for the Nuffield Hospitals

Paediatric advisor for Mast Cell Org