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The market demand in China and Europe is recovering, and the king crab market is about to usher in a rebound

After the Ukraine war, the United Kingdom imposed a 35% tariff on Russian imports, and the United States completely banned the trade of Russian seafood. The ban took effect in June last year. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has canceled the state’s 2022-23 red and blue king crab season, meaning Norway becomes the sole source of king crab imports from North America and Europe.

This year, the global king crab market will accelerate differentiation, and more and more Norwegian red crabs will be supplied to Europe and the United States. Russian king crabs are mainly sold to Asia, especially China. Norwegian king crab only accounts for 9% of the global supply, and even if it is bought out by the European and American markets, it can only meet a small part of the demand. Prices are expected to rise even higher as supplies tighten, especially in the US. The price of live crabs will rise first, and the price of frozen crabs will also rise immediately.

Chinese demand has been very strong this year, Russia is supplying the Chinese market with blue crabs and Norwegian red crabs are expected to arrive in China this week or next. Because of the Ukrainian war, Russian exporters lost the European and North American markets, and more live crabs will inevitably be sold to the Asian market, and the Asian market has become an important market for Russian crabs, especially China. This can lead to lower prices in China, even for crabs caught in the Barents Sea, which are traditionally shipped to Europe. In 2022, China will import 17,783 tons of live king crab from Russia, an increase of 16% over the previous year. In 2023, Russian Barents Sea king crab will enter the Chinese market for the first time.

The demand of the catering industry in the European market is still relatively optimistic, and the fear of the European economic recession is not so strong. The demand from December to January of this year has been very good. Considering the shortage of king crab supply, the European market will choose some substitutes, such as South American king crab.

In March, due to the start of the Norwegian cod fishing season, the supply of king crab will decrease, and the breeding season will enter in April, and the production season will also be closed. From May to September, there will be more Norwegian supplies until the end of the year. But until then, only a handful of live crabs are available for export. It is clear that Norway cannot meet the needs of all markets. This year, the Norwegian red king crab catch quota is 2,375 tons. In January, 157 tons were exported, about 50% of which were sold to the United States, a year-on-year increase of 104%.

The quota for red king crab in the Russian Far East is 16,087 tons, an increase of 8% over last year; the quota for the Barents Sea is 12,890 tons, basically the same as last year. The Russian blue king crab quota is 7,632 tons, and the gold king crab is 2,761 tons.

Alaska (East Aleutian Islands) has a quota of 1,355 tons of golden king crab. As of February 4, the catch is 673 tons, and the quota is about 50% complete. In October last year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) announced the cancellation of the state’s 2022-23 Chionocetes opilio, red king crab and blue king crab fishing seasons, covering Bering Sea snow crab, Bristol Bay and Pribilof District red king crab, and Pribilof District and Saint Matthew Island blue king crab.

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