Seattle-based seafood consultant Les Hodges reports today in his popular blog that United States imports of Canadian snow crab were up 119% for the first three months of 2023 over the same period last year, and U.S. imports of last season’s crab are up 535% year-to-date with “strong” March sales.
The province’s snow crab fleet has ben tied up since early April when the price-setting panel set the price to start the season at $2.20/lb — a dramatic drop from 2022’s lowest official price of $6.15/lb.
“It is clear that the lower prices in 2023 are positive as crab sales have rebounded over the last three months and much of the carryover inventory is now in the U.S. market to be consumed,” writes Hodges.
Hodges advices, and rightly so, that the "challenge and opportunity" for producers and marketers will be to take advantage of the current lower prices and expand the snow crab market.
Meanwhile, live and processed Russian snow snow is supplying the Asian market almost exclusively. Russian crab is banned in the United States and Europe, but not in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea.
Hodges writes that U.S. consumers are concerned about the economy, leading to lower demand for premium seafoods such as snow crab.
The Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery is the largest in North American, with a 2023 quota of 54,727 tonnes or 121 million pounds, and is the largest supplier to the U.S. market.
Hodges reports that 50% of the 31,466-tonne snow crab quota in the Gulf was taken as of May 2nd.
Ryan Cleary,Executive Director, SEA-NL Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit sea-nl.ca to join.