King crab players ponder positions
By James Wright, SeaFood Business senior editor
09 November, 2009 -
Dangerous fishing conditions, colorful personalities and high-stakes commodity trading all make king crab an exciting market. With U.S. quotas down, foreign resources at risk and a sensitive global economy all at play, this year’s season has everyone guessing.
Japan, where the lion’s share of Alaska king crab annually ends up, is expected to once again set the market for red kings, as the yen is stronger than last year. On the other hand, Japan’s economy is also under pressure, and one distributor doubts its buyers will take a big position. Inventories there are low, however, so that could change.
“One of those two factors will win out,” said the distributor.
When Alaska’s season began on 15 October, the ex-vessel price was preliminarily set at USD 4.67 (EUR 3.11) a pound; last year’s opener was USD 5 (EUR 3.33). The red king crab quota is set at 16 million pounds, down from 20.4 million pounds last season.
The U.S. market leans on imports, 90 percent coming from Russia, and there should be a lot of low-priced, small clusters available. Through August, U.S. imports were up 4 percent from last year to 25.5 million pounds.
Will Russia’s production ever equal that of 2007, when it shipped more than 61 million pounds of frozen crab to the United States? Prevailing opinion says the spawning biomass in the Sea of Okhotsk is in trouble and poaching is still rampant.
Although Alaska’s snow crab fishery also opens on 15 October, it typically begins once the king crab quota is met, and runs through mid-May. The opilio quota is set at 48 million pounds, down 10.5 million pounds from last season.
Back to all market reports >
Printer Friendly Version |
Email to a friend
To comment on or rate this news article, you must be logged in as a member. If you are already a member, log in here. If you’re not a member, click here to activate your complimentary membership.