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3-Minute Market Insight

EP 533 | AIRED 04/12/2021

2021 Global Snow Crab Update for the North American Markets

April 12th, 2021 --- This week we provide a Global Snow Crab Update for the North American Markets just as the new season starts up on the World's Largest Snow Crab producer - Canada.

--- Despite enduring a season through the COVID-19 Pandemic, in 2020, fishermen around the world managed to harvest almost 278 million lbs of Snow Crab globally which translates to about 97 percent of a combined total allowable catch of 287.6 million lbs between Alaska, Canada, and Russian fisheries.

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The Global Snow Crab harvest throughout 2021 is estimated to amount to 300.6 million lbs – that is if all three countries can harvest all of their catch limits and based on historical data, should not be a problem.

The Snow Crab market saw tremendous growth at the retail level in 2020 and this year demand is expected to be the same, if not even more.

Even with an estimated 13 million more lbs of Snow Crab anticipated to be harvested in 2021, we are forecasting for another year of tight inventories for this premium product.

Canadian Snow Crab Harvest

In fact, we would go as far to forecast a year short on all premium species of Crab and pricing to remain strong.

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."

Our recommendation is to get your Crab Program planned now, taking into consideration your live and frozen Crab requirements.

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.

Russian Snow Crab Harvest

Now moving onto regionalized data.

--- In Canada there are 3 main fisheries - Newfoundland and Labrador, the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Maritimes.

All three major fisheries in the Atlantic are now underway starting up about a month earlier than last year, and with a total allowable catch 11 million lbs higher than 2020.

With a combined total allowable catch of 157.6 million lbs for 2021, expect to see well over 150 million lbs of Snow Crab landed this year from the Canadian Fishery.

Despite a delayed start to last year's season due to the coronavirus, Snow Crab fishermen managed to harvest over 146 million lbs in the 2020 Canadian fishery, translating to 95.1 percent of the total allowable catch landed.

Key markets for Canadian Snow Crab are typically the US foodservice and retail markets but it is also exported into world markets such as Japan.

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--- In Russia, the 2 main fishing areas are the Barents Sea and various areas in the Far East.

The total allowable catch for 2021 was set at about 97.9 million lbs, down slightly from the total allowable catch in 2020 that was set at about 99.5 million lbs.

In 2020, the Russian fishery harvested 99 percent of the total allowable catch, and we should anticipate similar success for the 2021 season.

Key markets for Russian Snow Crab are China and Korea.

Alaska Snow Crab Harvest

--- For Alaska, although the season officially runs from October to May, fishing doesn't really get going until January.

A February marker showed about 7.7 million lbs of Snow Crabs harvested, which then ramped up to 17 million lbs by March, and the latest figures for April are for over 35 million harvested of the 45 million lbs total allowable catch.

Alaska increased the total allowable catch from 34.02 million lbs in the 2019/20 season to 45 million lbs for the 2020/21 season.

With 10 million left lbs to harvest in Alaska, we anticipate the fishery to land the full limit as the fishery has historically always been able to successfully accomplish - even during a pandemic.

Key markets for Alaskan Snow Crab are USA, Japan, and China - though mostly for reprocessing.

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