Crawfish in decline as lobster industry booms

By Sean Roach

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Crustacean, Import

Europe's large crustacean prices remained fairly stable with a
large drop in the demand and supply of crawfish being offset by
increased lobster consumption, says a new Food and Agriculture
Organisation(FAO) report.

The trends from country to country in the EU suggest that the dwindling volume of crawfish reaching consumers could be a direct result of the increases in lobster imports in many markets.

However, the decline of crawfish imports by volume is having a severe affect on suppliers in North America. The Bahamas and Cuba both witnessed drops of 30 per cent and 50 per cent respectively causing concern that the lack of exports could damage those industries, said the report published by FAO's Globefish.

Globefish notes that import values through the first half of this year have strongly correlated with the volume of imports. While crawfish has taken a dive in France by 41 per cent the price of crawfish in that market is also down 30 per cent, another worrying note for suppliers.

Offsetting the lack of crawfish in France is the increase of live and frozen lobster imports. While live lobster only saw a 1 per cent increase, frozen lobster imports doubled to 220 tonnes from January to May. This increased volume has also been accompanied by moderate price increases, stated Globefish.

The same affects are being felt in the Spanish market, although on a less dramatic scale. Imports volumes for crawfish fell 5 per cent to 720 tonnes during the first half of the year. This had the biggest affect on Cuban suppliers who experienced a 17 per cent fall in exports to Spain, indicating that Spanish harvesting of local crawfish has increased.

The Spanish are consuming more crustaceans on average considering the massive increase in lobster imports. Frozen lobster increased over 220 per cent to 320 tonnes while live lobster imports have increased 10 per cent to 1,330 tonnes from January to May.

Globefish states that the increased Spanish import volume is mirroring the growing supply from Benelux, Canada and Ireland. The growing live lobster market in Spain is attributed to the increase in sales from the USA, where have volumes jumped a third to almost 700tonnes.

The Italian market is usually quiet during the first half of the year, notes Globefish. However, there is already and increase in lobster import volumes - up 7% to over 700 tonnes during the first four months. The import of crawfish in this seafood-savvy market will be unknown until consumers begin buying heavily towards the end of the year.

Globefish notes that although European import trade in large crustaceans is focused more on the second half of the year with peak consumption during the final quarter, crawfish is not on pace to outdo last year's performance.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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