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3-Minute Market Insight

EP 509 | AIRED 10/12/2020

Global Snow Crab Market Update for Alaska, Canada, and Russia

October 12th, 2020 --- This week we report on the Global Snow Crab Market and Fisheries from Alaska to Canada and to Russia as we move past Summer Sales and prepare for even higher demand on Holiday Season sales.

Starting with global harvest totals and an estimated 246.3 million lbs of Snow Crab have been harvested from Alaskan, Canadian, and Russian fisheries since the start of Alaska's Snow Crab fishery back in October 2019.

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Narrowing in on Alaska, and the 2019/2020 season ended May 15th 2020 where just over 34 million lbs of Snow Crab were harvested.

The 2020/2021 season starts up October 15th with a Total Allowable Catch of 45 million lbs which is a 32 percent increase over last season's TAC of 34 million.

The new TAC is being noted as a more conservative increase than the "strong projected biomass of 610 million lbs" might have called for due to the absence of trawl surveys over the summer that were cancelled because of COVID-19.

Alaska Snow Crab Harvest

--- Moving onto Canada, and the last of the three Canadian Snow Crab fisheries have just come to an end with preliminary harvest totalling about 144.5 million lbs.

This year's harvest was 9.5 million lbs short of the combined Total Allowable Catch for 2020 of 154 million lbs, and 776,000 lbs less than the combined harvest for 2019 of 145.3 million lbs.

The harvest in The Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence was a bit lower than in 2019 and fishery managers speculate that reasons could be due to fisheries closures to protect the North Atlantic Right Whales and delays in season openings due to COVID-19.

Canadian Snow Crab Harvest

An early opening is again targeted for 2021 (based on the season opening protocol that was revised prior to the 2020 season) and discussion will continue with industry on the management measures to protect the North Atlantic Right Whales.

For Russia, the 2020 Snow Crab Total Allowable Catch was set at about 67.79 million lbs down slighly from 2019's TAC of 68.83 million lbs that also had a successful harvest of 66.78 million lbs.

Although we could not confirm current harvest totals for 2020, industry reports are advising that vessels and processors are in full swing.

Russian Snow Crab Harvest

According to Crab industry veteran Les Hodges, "Opilio Snow Crab harvesters continue to emphasize live Crab over processed as 16 processors are harvesting live and 7 processing cooked crab. 6 vessels are processing Angulatus and Japonicus deep water snow crab which is destined for the U.S. market."

--- And now, moving onto the supply and demand side as inventories diminish amidst increased demand moving into the holiday seasons.

Our recommendation is to start securing your Crab requirements now to get you through December.

For North America, inventories are expected to remain tight and demand high with continued retail sales growth as consumers (likely with more disposable income now) look to splurge on higher end items such as Crab to enjoy at home instead of in restaurants.

Even though Alaska was able to harvest over 34 million lbs of Snow Crab this season, the U.S. is still very much dependent on Russian and Canadian Snow Crab production in order to meet domestic demand.

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National Seafood Month

In looking at trade data, the US has already imported over 76 million lbs of Frozen Snow Crab from Canada and over 25 million lbs from Russia just from January to August this year - already surpassing the 2019 January to December totals of 69.9 million and 13.9 million lbs from Canada and Russia respectivly.

Globally, the U.S. imported 91.5 million lbs of Frozen Snow Crab and other Snow Crab Products in 2019 and 108.5 million lbs so far from January to August 2020.

As much the U.S. is reliant on Snow Crab imports, the country still exported 8.6 million lbs of Snow Crab products in 2019 and have already surpased 9 million lbs in 2020.

USA Snow Crab 2020 Exports

Despite COVID, the volume of U.S. exports remained steady into China, Japan, and Thailand - it saw increases into Indonesia and Vietnam - decreases into Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico and South Korea - and it found new markets in Costa Rica and Columbia.

As inventories of Canadian Snow Crab get depleted prices will continue to rise.

New season Alaskan Snow Crab should enter the market in the coming weeks and Russian imports will continue to replenish the U.S. market however Les Hodges notes that some Russian product is experiencing sea lice issues on the shell which only detracts from the appearance and does not affect the taste.

Even with a new injection of Snow Crab supply, food buyers may still have issues trying to secure inventories.

USA Snow Crab 2020 Imports

Our recommendation again is to start securing your Crab requirements now to get you through December - and if you are having trouble securing inventories, please do connect with the seafood experts at Tradex Foods to assist you in securing your Crab requirements.

While we're on the topic of Crab, did you know our very own 3-Minute Market Insight made it into the recent Season 16 finally episode of the Deadliest Catch? Watch the clip here.

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