Scallop Prices Have Dived due to Large Catches

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Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Jonathan Stokes, analyst at Mintec. 

Scallops are a seafood item that have become increasingly popular over the last decade. Cooked beautifully in restaurants — but maybe less well in our own homes! — the tasty mollusc is something many look forward to. The market for scallops, especially the larger-sized Atlantic sea scallops, also known as giant scallops, is one of the most valuable to U.S. fisheries.

Prices peak seasonally at the start of the year due to declining stocks in line with the end of the fishing season, with prices rising 13% from December to January. U.S. sea scallop prices have, however, fallen 34% since March, due to not only the number of scallops caught by fishing vessels but also the size of the individual scallops.

The larger scallops are mainly caught along the Eastern seaboard in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts, and the price fall has been led by catches of these large scallops. Scallops are sold by their count per pound, with U10 being the largest, and within the U.S., the larger sizes are by far the most popular with consumers.

Since the new season started in March, U.S. catches have been made up mainly of U10s, U20s and U30s, an exciting prospect for fishermen and seafood lovers alike. Scallop prices for U10s dropped 19% to $13.70 per pound, while 20s and 30s dropped 20% to $7.47 per pound during April. Total scallop catches within this season are forecast to rise 15% year-over-year, to around 48 million pounds.

There are, however, worries over export demand for these large scallop catches. Exports have come under pressure from new Canadian trades agreements with the E.U., which have made Canadian export prices more competitive than those of the U.S. So while the popularity of this little (or should I say large) mollusc grows domestically, its competitiveness on the international market can be questioned.

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