Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Market Forecast In A Shell

Happy National Oyster Day!  Each year I feel that this glorious day gains more and more traction in the national media and in restaurant goers' collective dining conscious.  Seriously, as if you needed more reasons to eat delicious bi-valves?  Getting caught up in the National Oyster Day celebration is easy to do.  However, we fishmongers must do our due diligence and keep our heads out of the clouds.  It's our duty to bring you both the good and the not so good news, so in the spirit of fairness and all things shellfish, I just wanted to give you a quick market update on what's happening with some shell wearing treats of the sea.

Shrimp season is in full swing in Texas.  It's been about 3 weeks of fishing now, and landings look to be solid.  As the freezer boats come in, we should see prices for domestic shrimp decrease for the September, October, November months.  Fresh North Carolina shrimp quality has been off the charts and availability has been very strong.  Prices for NC white shrimp have been the lowest in the last 3 years.  Weekly landings of CT Red Shrimp have been sporadic due to catch, but I expect these delicious rubies to be around for a few more weeks.

Lobster prices seem to be on the rise.  Canadian availability is almost nonexistent and Maine is shipping about 60,000 lobsters a week to China.  China's growing middle class is developing a growing appetite for "bugs" and this demand is causing prices to soar.  Summer lobster prices are usually pretty reasonable, but this year has seen some big increases.  Don't expect this trend to change until Canada gets back on line.

Most predicted this year's scallop harvest to be much better than years past.  Most thought the big harvest would give much needed relief to the exorbitant prices we have seen over the last two years on quality domestic scallops.  Sorry, we were wrong.  The U.S. landings are up around 8%, but the sizes of the scallops are smaller than projected.  Couple this with two major global scallop players, namely Japan and Peru, having very poor harvests, and what you have is a global market thirsting for good scallops.  Japanese harvest is down 25% and Peruvian is down about 50%.  The global deficit is placing a strain on our supply, and the outlook for the rest of the year looks expensive.

I noted earlier that West Coast Oyster production was taking a hit due to extremely warm water temperatures, but all is not lost.  We have had some excellent New Hampshire Oysters coming in that are summer gems and fall is right around the corner.  If we can make it through the month of August, then we are home free as far as mussels, clams, and oysters go.  They all will begin feeding again and the wonderful flavors we associate with delectable shellfish will once again be just a raw bar away.

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