Where’s the mahi? Tight supplies drive up prices
Mahimahi supplies are scarce, driving prices up to around USD 6.50 a pound wholesale. The U.S. mahi fishery, typically running from May through July, has yielded low volumes and smaller sizes so far this season.
“This is the third disappointing domestic mahi season in a row. The boats made one or two trips for mahi, then started targeting swordfish or tuna again,” said one Northeast U.S. distributor.
“We are off-season, so it is overly priced. Imports are very expensive still and there are very few coming in from South America,” said another U.S. distributor. “Prices still continue to be in the high USD 6 range and are expected to hold,” he added.
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The problem with the U.S. mahi catch is simply one of economics. Boats have to go between 50 and 150 miles offshore to catch the fish but can get paid much more for catching large tuna and swordfish.
Many restaurants are opting to take the fish off the menu until the season in Central America and South America opens in October. Others are simply purchasing fresh mahi less often. “Customers want to see different choices on their menus, so some restaurants put it on rotation,” said one of the distributors.
And, because fresh mahi prices are so high right now, some restaurants have switched to frozen mahi. “Or, they are taking mahi off their menus and replacing it with swordfish, tuna or something that is less expensive,” said the distributor.
Buyers want to source larger mahi, which have not been that available this season. “A few, small 3-pound to 10-pound fish came in today,” said the distributor.