After hundreds of comments received after the publication of the first text on the price of crab on March 25, Journal Le Soir took into account the reactions and questions of its readers and responded with the final report on the crab fishing season and especially on the price of the precious crustacean.
During our research, we tried to find answers from people who gravitate around the industry. For example, we interviewed fishmongers and fishermen. One of them, Dave Ross, gave his point of view during an interview last Saturday. Apparently, his explanations and comments were not well received by the readers.
In addition, many consumers believe that there are signs of a conspiracy in the crab market. The saleswoman stated that she had discussed the prices with other traders, which also caused a lot of reaction, suggesting that there was a conspiracy with the facts.
Evening newspaper asked the woman if she wanted to explain herself further in the face of consumer backlash. She declined our invitation and asked that her comments be removed.
It should also be noted that this hypothetical collusion cannot be demonstrated any more clearly than in the case of gasoline prices. A trader can also check the prices of his competitors by going to his home or paying attention to his advertisements.
Department of Consumer Rights Protection
The Office of Consumer Protection (OPC) may be the first responder to protect consumers from potentially inflated prices. We reached out to Charles Tanguay, OPC’s media manager. He notes that it is not the role of the Office to act according to the rules of the market and to comment on the mechanisms of determination and prices. Rather, the Office is primarily responsible for compliance of posted prices with over-the-counter prices and compliance with laws on commercial exchanges in general.
Global supply is shrinking
However, we were able to contact a specialist who explained the situation well and impartially. This is Guy-Pascal Weiner, Director of Commercial Fisheries for the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation.
The latter identifies two elements that likely explain the current crab price: the end of the pandemic, as well as the significant demand for crab in the current international context.
“Demand is extremely high during a pandemic that is draining even as it continues. So everything that is festive, everything that is entertaining, eventful, entertaining, is restored and opened in full force. Tourism is back in full swing, or at least trying to be, and around these somewhat “pretty” products, the snow crab is somewhat of a headliner of everything buffet-style, cruises, casinos, everything that makes high-end travel. So there is a lot of demand, while the global supply is shrinking,” Weiner said.
A significant reduction in the quota
“Alaska, located off the west coast of Canada, is a major global producer. There have been huge quota cuts, almost 90%, so big cuts, and the other relatively big player is Russia. With the international boycott of Russian crab and the collapse of the crab fishery in Alaska, virtually only Canadian crab remains. The Gulf of St. Lawrence has the richest crab bottoms in the world, which not only leaves the Canadian crab king and lord, but also leaves the Quebec crab literally on top of the throne,” says Mr. Weiner.
Prices may vary by region
Thus, he explains that setting crab prices is not the responsibility of the fishmongers, but rather depends on the influence of the big market and the annual North American event, the Boston Seafood Show. The annual Boston Fair leads the pace, or at least it does mark the value of the landings.
“This is where some buyers are speaking out, maybe to secure supplies a little bit. That’s an order of magnitude that’s quoted in Boston, but then producers in, say, Quebec agree to give a price that varies slightly from zone to zone. Not so long ago, each area still had a difference, both geographically and in terms of income. Each zone was paid slightly differently. Recently, there has been a trend towards a single price for the entire region or almost. And this price is determined by the processing industry,” he also notes.
“Eat your Saint Laurent”
Finally, it should be noted that efforts are being made to promote and facilitate access to crab. Renowned chef from Rimouski, Colombe Saint-Pierre is part of the “Mange ton Saint-Laurent” collective. We invited her for an interview, but she preferred to refuse our invitation, reminding us that this Wednesday the team will broadcast a webinar on this topic on its Facebook page. The theme of this conference: “Crab caught here, eaten elsewhere? Understand the rise in prices.’
In addition, while conducting research to try to explain the fluctuations in crab prices, Radio-Canada Bas-Saint-Laurent interviewed Gabriel Bourgot-Fochet, a researcher at the Institute for Contemporary Economic Studies, who confirmed that the price of snow crab depends on world supply . and demand
He also confirms that there has been a stock collapse in Alaska since 2015. “Quotas were reduced by 88%. Added to this is the conflict in Ukraine and economic sanctions that reduce crab imports from Russia,” he says.
At Rimouski Fish Markets, the price of boiled snow crab ranges from $29 to $33 per pound of boiled crab and $15.50 per pound of live crab.