Volatility on the supply side continues to sway the scallop market
Just as January’s Polar Vortex gave Americans a new perspective on what it means to be cold, the continuing shortened supply of, and steady demand for, sea scallops has made prices from a year or two ago seem like a bargain.
“Prices are through the roof,” said Mike DiNino, the scallop buyer for Fortune Fish & Gourmet in Bensenville, Ill. Over the 12 years that DiNino has been dealing in scallops, he said current prices are the highest he’s seen because of limited supply and consistent demand.
“For 10-plus years there’s been a gradual increase in price, but also more demand as our business has grown,” he said. DiNino attributes the high prices to a trio of factors: increased use of scallops during the holiday season, reduced quotas, and the cold weather that impacted both fishermen and the transportation of product nationwide.
“Weather was a huge factor in January,” he said, because airlines weren’t flying and trucks were held up because of snow and ice-covered roads. “We were able to get product, but it wasn’t easy.”
There was a drop in the scallop catch between September and December last year, said Sean Moriarty, product manager-sea scallops for American Pride Seafood in New Bedford, Mass., that also tightened supply. “My best guess is that 70 percent of the fishing was done in the first six months and we’ll see fairly light landings for the next few months.”
Overall, he says, there has been a 33 percent reduction in the harvest this year combined with a 20 percent increase in price. The Limited Access Scallop-Sub total allowable catch (TAC) for March 2013 to February 2014 is just over 42 million pounds.