Global scallop landings drop, prices going up
A decline in global scallop landings this year is ensuring U.S. scallop prices remain strong this summer.
“Pricing is strong, because the availability of goods in the U.S. is lesser this year than what everybody had expected. To compound the issue, two of the top five scallop fisheries globally have had significant decreases this year,” said Joe Furtado, executive vice president of Eastern Fisheries in New Bedford, Mass., a major scallop supplier to U.S. foodservice and retail chains.
“The market has moved up some in the last couple of weeks, but we haven’t moved our pricing too much and haven’t seen market reaction by the restaurants [such as buying less],” said Tim Sughrue, VP of Congressional Seafood in Washington, D.C. In fact, Congressional has realized an increased demand for its Ocean City dry scallops, which the distributor picks up at the coast, around two hours from its facility. Congressional’s scallop supply has been steady since the season started.
However, it’s a different story for global production. Scallop landings are expected to be down around 50 percent in Peru this year and Japanese landings will be off by around 25 percent.
In the United States, overall landings will likely be up between 8.5 and 10 percent compared to 2014, but production is still lower than expected. Several media reports estimated a significant hike in U.S. production of between 40 and 60 percent this year, which didn’t occur. Instead, landings will likely be between 31 and 32 million pounds, higher than the 29 million pounds last year for the limited-access fishery.
In addition, the size of U.S. scallops overall is down significantly from last year, according to Furtado.
As a result, shucked sea scallop prices range from USD 14.50 (EUR 13.28) to 15 (EUR 13.74) a pound, 10/20 count, f.o.b. New York Fulton Market, and USD 14.25 (EUR 13.05) to USD 14.50 (EUR 13.28) a pound f.o.b. New England. One buyer experienced prices above USD 15 a pound for 10/20 count f.o.b. for the first time this week.
Still, demand for U.S. scallops from U.S. retail and foodservice buyers has been “extremely robust” this summer, Furtado said. “Our customers believe whatever pricing today is probably a value compared to what it will be tomorrow.”
Prices are expected to rise more later this year because of global production issues, particularly in Japan. “We are heavily reliant on the Japanese scallop as our main scallop supply in winter months. Now [because of lower landings], Japan will keep back a lot of goods for domestic consumption,” Furtado said.