Major New Brunswick Lobster Processors Warn of Possible Shortage of Tails this Winter
Canadian lobster processors say that by January, February and March, the pipeline for tails will not be normal at all. The expectation is for significant shortages in the market compared to prior years, which means prices could be volatile. John Sackton writes of the various scenarios that packers say will lead to lobster tail shortages this winter season. First is the expectation that the industry will not get a repeat of the nearly perfect fishing weather the industry operated under in 2015. Second is a shortage of available labor that will cut processing capacity at plants that produce meat and tails. Third is the timing of when this season will open versus last year. According to John Sackton these scenarios put the lobster tail market in position to see higher prices this winter season.
A very quick red king crab fishery has wrapped up last week in Alaska, with 98 percent of the rationalized quota of 7.6 million pounds landed, a 14.6 percent decline to the catch last year. Expectations were for red king crab prices to go higher this year based on the shortages and so far this appears to be the case. Urner Barry began quoting new season Alaska red king crab this week, as there are enough sales in the market to establish a quote. Alaskan 14-17 king crab legs quotations are up 19 percent from last November. Meanwhile, Russian red king crab (which can include blue king crab as well) moved up to $16.50 from $16.10 on a comparable size at the beginning of September.
In other news, Clearwater Seafoods posted a sharp increase in its sales year-to-date primarily because of strong demand for high-priced seafood items. Clearwater's sales are up 30 percent in 2016 according to its third quarter performance report. The company credited the increase to strong demand for higher priced Canadian sea and Argentine scallops, lobster and snow crab. Volume growth was also reported for Argentine scallops, UK King scallops, langoustine and whelk.
Meanwhile, executive chef and restaurateur Andrew Gruel has a plan to make fast casual seafood a scalable, chef-driven reality with his Slapfish concept. So far Slapfish has six locations in California. But Gruel said he has a deal in the works to expand to six states and another major plan to expand the restaurant to two international markets by 2017. “If I could reinvent something that was fun and sexy in a fast casual environment I could create a model that could scale and replicate and get more people to eat more seafood,” Gruel said. Ultimately, Gruel’s franchise plan is to launch 100 locations in the next seven years.
Finally, food industry associations and retailers Wednesday voiced nonpartisan reactions to President-elect Donald Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton and congressional races resulting in Republicans maintaining control of the House and Senate. Today's story runs comments from the Food Marketing Institute, Wal-Mart and the National Grocers Association among others.
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