By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
Published on 26 September, 2013
Live Dungeness crab buyers are getting ready to pay top dollar for the coming season’s landings.
“Chinese national holidays run from 1 October through 8 October and, from now and until Chinese New Year, demand builds,” Kevin Bradley, director of Asia operations for Victoria, B.C.-based supplier and exporter Tradex Foods, told SeafoodSource.
Puget Sound’s inner waters Dungeness crab fishery opens on 1 October and runs through March or whenever the quota is reached.
“There is way more dollar value for inside [waters], because the crab is mainly a live market for overseas,” said Rich Childers, Puget Sound shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The quota for the inland Dungeness crab fishery for the 2013-2014 season is 9.5 million, up from 9.15 million for the 2012-2103 season.
Already, there is a shortage of product on the market since “hardly anything went into the freezers” from last season, Bradley said. “Although there was [plentiful] supply from Alaska, Canada, and Oregon, none of it is meeting the demand for the product,” Bradley said.
Limited treaty openings in Puget Sound’s inner waters have already begun, and crabbers are getting around USD 6.50 per pound off the boat. “Suppliers say they are going for as high as USD 45 a pound in China,” Childers said.
Bradley said that the live Chinese wholesale market will be at least USD 10 a pound for the time being, “until more fishing comes on line.”
“Domestic processors expect shortages due to Chinese demand for this live crab,” said Rob Reierson, president and CEO of Tradex Foods, in the company’s recent “3 Minute Market Report.”