“Insatiable” is the word being used to describe the demand for snow crab as pots are dropped in the world’s largest fishery at Eastern Canada.

Fishing got underway on April 5 in three main regions:   Newfoundland and Labrador, the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

The combined Canadian catch for snow crab now  through September, most of which comes into the U.S., is over 157 million pounds.

Russia is the second largest snow crab producer with a harvest of nearly 98 million pounds in its year round fishery. Russian snow crab goes mostly to China and Korea.

Alaska is the world’s third largest snow crab producer with a catch this year of 45 million pounds for the fishery that ends in mid-May.

Norway also now accounts for over 14 million pounds of snow crab, most of which goes to the U.S.

Global seafood supplier Tradex says snow crab saw huge growth at retail in 2020 and demand is expected to be higher this year. In fact, sales of all premium crab are expected to remain strong amid tight supplies.

Seafoods like crab are now perceived as being affordable to buy and cook at home compared to the cost in a restaurant. Tradex spokesperson Tasha Cadence says that has spawned a new pandemic-inspired word by market experts.

“To quote Crab industry veteran Les Hodges in his latest April Crab Update “There is a new word that is trending that appropriately describes king and snow crab today. It is “Premiumization”, or customers recognizing a higher value for a product and paying a higher price.  As retail sales will continue to devour Crab supply this year, 2021 will be an important year to monitor the pulse on “when” foodservice sales return as opposed to “if” foodservice sales return.”

Prices for snow crab to Canadian fishermen were reported by Undercover News at a record $4.56US and could top $7 a pound.

It’s been next to impossible so far to find any prices for Alaska snow crab which goes primarily to markets at home, Japan and to  China for reprocessing.

If all the snow crab catches come in as planned, it will add up to more than 300.6 million pounds for global markets this year, 13 million pounds more than in 2020.

And while Alaska is famous for its crab – meaning snow, king crab, Tanners  and Dungeness – it’s a small player providing just 6% of global supply.

 

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