Demand for Irish blue lobster, brown crabs higher than ever in China
Demand for Irish blue lobsters and brown crabs, both live and frozen, is ever-increasing, according to Ireland-based Hannigan Live Irish Shellfish.
Irish blue lobsters represent a more premium product than their North nAmerican counterparts, typically coming in smaller sizes and higher costs. Despite the higher cost, demand in China is great enough that it’s outstripping the supply at Hannigan.
“There is a huge increased demand, which is very positive for us,” Jimmy White, with Hannigan, told SeafoodSource during Seafood Expo Asia 2018 in Hong Kong. “We’re seeing an increased demand for lobsters. Though the Irish lobster, the blue lobster, is traditionally a smaller sized lobster than the Canadian or American lobster.”
White said that some of that demand could be credited to the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China, which has driven up the costs for live lobsters and left the costs between the two products much closer.
“With the ongoing difficulty with tariffs between the U.S. and China, we’re seeing increased demand for the blue lobster,” White said.
The production of blue lobster in Ireland is on a much smaller scale than output in the United States, with a fraction of the tonnage produced.
“Our tonnage is much much lower, that’s what makes it a niche product really,” White said. “People recognize that the blue lobster is a higher-valued, more expensive lobster.”
While the demand has increased for the product, getting enough to satisfy that demand is an ongoing challenge. Shipping live lobsters from Ireland to China is always a risky proposition, and harvesting enough lobster in the first place represents its own set of challenges.
For now, Hannigan is working to increase the size of its fleet to begin meeting the increasing demand, according to White.
“We’re working harder as well to try and increase our fishing fleet, to get more boats fishing, and more products,” he said.