Alaska snow crab landings good
By April Forristall, SeafoodSource assistant editor
27 March, 2009 -
Alaska snow crab fishing has been remarkably steady so far this season, which officially started Oct. 15 but didn't kick into high gear until January.
As of late March, about 90 percent of the 58–million-pound 2008-09 quota had been landed, compared to roughly 80 percent by that time in 2008, and 70 percent in 2007.
"Harvesting has gone quickly and catch rates have been pretty good this year," says one buyer.
Prices, however, are down a bit from last year, with snow crabs going for around USD 3.75 (EUR 2.82) a pound, f.o.b. Seattle, for truckload deliveries.
"We're at the point where more [product] is showing up at retail," says the buyer. "Restaurant consumption is down, but retail trade is up this year. Last year the price point was a bit too high [for retailers]."
He adds that once the Canadian season gets under way this month, "there will be significant retail penetration."At retail outlets around Seattle in March, snow crab clusters were being put on special for as low as USD 4.99 (EUR 3.75) a pound.
Canadian product, however, still drives the U.S. market, and in January the United States imported 897,783 pounds of snow crab from Canada, up from 544,861 pounds in January 2008, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Canada's Newfoundland harvest reached 52,747 metric tons last year, 97 percent of the 54,338 metric ton quota. In December, Newfoundland clusters were selling for USD 3.65 to 3.80 (EUR 2.74 to 2.86) for 4 ounces and up; USD 3.50 to 4.00 (EUR 2.63 to 3.01) for 5 to 8 ounces; USD 4.00 to 4.10 (EUR 3.01 to 3.09) for 8 ounces and up; and USD 4.15 to 4.25 (EUR 3.12 to 3.20) for 10 ounces and up.
Imports from the United States' second largest supplier, Russia, dropped to 728,167 pounds in January, down from 828,312 pounds in January of last year.
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