Japan increases imports of Russian king crab thanks to nearly 60 percent price drop

King crab legs.

U.S. sanctions are forcing Russian crab suppliers to find new markets, and Japan has become a new destination for deeply discounted king crab, snow crab, and horsehair crab.

The U.S., which was formerly the biggest purchaser of crab from Russia, introduced an embargo on imports of Russian seafood in March 2022 as part of sanctions related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The country recently expanded that ban to include products that stem from Russia but were processed by third-party nations.

Japan similarly introduced sanctions at the time of Russia’s invasion by removing the country’s “most favored nation” status in April 2022, but this move did not ban imports like U.S. sanctions did; it only slightly raised tariff rates.

As a result of Russia’s stripped status, Japan’s customs duties on Russian-origin crab rose from 4 percent to 6 percent, and the duty on salmon and trout jumped from 3.5 percent to 5 percent.

Nevertheless, Russian crab shipments to Japan have continued and specifically comprise three types of the crustacean: king crab, snow crab, and horsehair crab.

Japan Customs data for 2023 through October showed that the country imported ...

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Roman50

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