Tight supplies have pushed lobster prices high, with China the second largest importer of Lobster
After a record catch in 2021, the supply of North American crayfish (Bologne) is expected to tighten in 2022, driving its price to fluctuate at relatively high levels this year.
2021 was a record year for Maine's lobster fishery. The fishing industry generated $724.5 million in revenue for shrimp fishermen, an increase of $312.3 million from 2020, an increase of 76% year-on-year.
Maine is the most important lobster producer in the United States, accounting for 82% of the total number of lobsters in the United States. Data show that its catch reached 49,010 tons last year, an increase of about 10% year-on-year. Strong demand was cited as a contributing factor to the record catch, pushing up prices and increasing incentives for fishermen to catch shrimp.
However, the outlook for Maine's lobster industry is not bright. The ongoing debate over measures to protect right whales, particularly regarding new and stringent equipment requirements, remains a concern, and more importantly, the combination of factors such as inflation into 2022 has affected demand considerably.
On the other hand, there are concerns that climate change could affect Maine's lobster industry, where waters have warmed up in recent years, pushing lobster habitat farther north.
The coronavirus pandemic in 2022 has brought some turmoil to the global lobster market. Logistics problems make transportation difficult, rising costs, shortage of flights, difficulties in cargo supply and cargo handling and unloading, and labor shortages also affect the market. Therefore, although Maine lobster is in high demand in the Hong Kong region of China, the above problems make it difficult for exporters to export their products to this market in large quantities.
For the Chinese market, the Lunar New Year is approaching, which is generally the peak season for demand in the Chinese market, but the availability of commercial flights has not yet returned to the previous level, which means that the availability of cargo is reduced, which directly affects North America's fresh Bolong exports to China, so shipments are expected to decrease.
The data shows that last year China was the world's second largest importer of North American crayfish, after the United States, but a considerable part of the United States' Bolong imports actually came from Canada and exported to other countries, so the overall consumption volume of China's Bolong market cannot be ignored.
Last year, China imported $454 million worth of live lobsters from Canada and the United States imported $522 million worth of live lobsters from Canada. The market outlook for Canadian lobster in 2022 is very positive, with sales continuing to be strong and prices high in the first two months of the year.
However, the high price of lobster has forced some consumers to downgrade, reducing the consumption of fresh lobster and eating lobster tails instead. The average price of live lobster in the United States is about $10 per pound, but lobster tails sell for about $7 per pound.
The outlook for the lobster market is generally bright. In the most important Chinese market, demand is acceptable, and while the current U.S.-China trade situation remains problematic, both countries seem willing to make greater efforts to resolve disputes, and trade between the two countries has been steadily picking up after the early stages of the trade war.