Snow crab imports conquer US market

Snow crab imports from Eastern Canada and Norway have surged along with US demand.

by | July 11, 2024

Filed Under crab | Markets | Trade

Imports from all sources have surged by 36%  

Snow crab is a dominating seafood favorite again at US retail counters and restaurant tables, thanks to a huge surge in imports from other countries. Sixty-six million pounds entered the US through May, with a “remarkable” 38 million pounds coming in during that month alone. 

It  reflects a 36% increase from the 48 million pounds imported during the same time in 2023, according to global crab market guru Les Hodges.

 Snow crab from Eastern Canada made up 88% of the US imports totaling 56.2 million pounds, a surge of 39%.  That was followed by over five million pounds coming from Norway, or 10% of the US imports, reflecting a 36% for the first six months of the year.

“Norway’s exports of snow crab in June dropped 93% to 134,000 pounds in June compared to prior year as inventories shrink,” Hodges wrote in his July 8 newsletter dubbed “Snow crab’s cool conquest of US markets”. 

The value of the snow crab imports from Canada so far totals nearly $419 million and just over $38 million for Norway’s crab, according to US trade data.

Canada’s total  2024 catch quota for snow crab across all regions is 97,712 metric tons (nearly 215 million pounds), a decrease of  2.6% from 2023. Norway’s snow crab harvest total is 10,300 metric tons (22.66 million pounds).

Canadian prices rose in June, Hodges reported, “with Gulf 5-8 ounce (leg clusters) being 28% percent more expensive than the same period in 2023.  Prices for larger sizes (8+oz) have surged even more, increasing by 60%  due to the absence of Russian crab in the market.  Despite higher prices, imports have remained strong.”

Retail ads for the week of July 2, as reported by Urner Barry, featured snow crab in 75% of major U.S. markets. Feature prices ranged from $6.99 to $11.99 per pound, with the majority under $9.00.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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