With hard crabs starting to come on in the Chesapeake Bay and shrinking demand for their high-priced crabmeat, local picking plants dramatically lowered prices last week, trying to generate some interest in their product. As we have said in previous newsletters, demand from the retail sector, which was largely responsible for exacerbating crabmeat price hikes last summer, has fallen off a cliff. “Mrs. Jones” is not buying much seafood in the grocery store this summer, especially not buying what she views as high-priced local crabmeat.
We are relatively early in the season, so local picking houses don’t want to start freezing or pasteurizing, speculating on future sales that may not be there, and tying up large sums of money in the process. The strength of the American consumer is being challenged on many fronts, especially at the gas pumps and grocery stores. It seems that consumers are still willing to pay for experiences like dining out at restaurants. Still, the pandemic-driven behavior of buying expensive seafood in the retail store and taking it home to cook is now just a distant memory. (Full Newsletter)