Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Optimism Up on Demand and Prices for Snow Crab

In a year when Bering Sea crab are continuing to rebound – prompting the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to boost the quota for a third straight year –strong demand in domestic markets is expected to command robust pricing.

“The demand is so strong for snow crab that even though there is more Alaska snow crab we expect the prices to be higher than last year,” said Jake Jacobsen, executive director of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange in Seattle, Wash. “People want crab, so they are willing to pay for it.”

The primary demand for Alaska snow crab comes from US domestic markets and Japan. Actual prices are usually negotiated before season closures in June.

Snow crab, known for its sweet taste and delicate texture, is sold fully cooked and ready to eat, served hot or cold in a variety of entrees. In Anchorage in mid-January, five pounds of Alaskan snow crab legs sold for approximately $180 at 10th & M Seafoods’ two shops, and online seafood purveyor FishEx had it listed for $205. Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Wash., was offering snow crab legs by the pound at $26.99.

The Canadian snow crab fishery is reported to be at an all-time high moving into 2020, feeding what the marketing group Urner Barry describes as a seemingly insatiable demand for the succulent shellfish.

There is also a strong demand from China for Russian and Canadian snow crab, Jacobsen said. Some Canadian crab goes to China, although most of it finds its way to US markets, while most of the Russian crab goes to China, he explained.

The fishery officially opened on Oct. 15 in Alaska with a quota of 34,019,000 pounds, up from 27,581,000 pounds in 2018 and 18,961,000 pounds in 2017. Holders of individual fishing quota permits received 30,617,000 pounds. Community development quota was set at 3,410,900 pounds.

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