Panel ponders expansion of live markets for lobster, crab in 2018

Published on
January 25, 2018

Pricing for shellfish in 2017 continued trending strongly as retail sales volumes and market shares remained steady, according to the shellfish panel at the 2018 National Fisheries Institute’s Global Seafood Marketing Conference in Miami, Florida.

One major exception was lobster. Overall, lobster meat prices fell sharply last year, even with less supply, and live lobster prices weakened during the latter half of 2017 and were not responsive to potentially significant cuts in supply. 

One of the biggest surprises to hit the crab market in 2017 was record-high prices for snow crab, despite less consumption, the panel said. Crabmeat prices entered another cycle of shortage-driven price increases, the panel said.

Moving forward into 2018, the panelists expect that the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Law, which affects most crab product except for blue swimming crabmeat, will continue to affect key shellfish markets. The law has experienced a relatively smooth implementation phase, the panel said. 

An expansion of live markets in the new year is also likely, with demand for live shellfish potentially playing an important role in setting prices in the future, the panel said. Currently, demand is increasing for live shellfish in the Dungeness crab, king crab, and lobster sectors. However, snow crab continues to be the principal crustacean item for both retail and foodservice, which rely on the species heavily, the panel said.

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