When the COVID-19 lockdown began over a year ago, businesses were shut down and the economy took the brunt of it all. Prices have fluctuated tremendously throughout this period within many different industries including food, automobiles, restaurants, entertainment, and many more. To some people, this may not come to mind right away, but the seafood industry especially has been hit hard creating a snowball effect for any retailers and restaurants who are regularly purchasing from large seafood wholesalers.
Restaurants started opening back up and life started to feel “normal” again, but food prices in general are now a major concern. Restaurants have begun to change their menus, markets can’t offer their full product list, and supermarkets are struggling to keep shelves stocked. First off, the overall demand for specific seafood products such as scallops, lobster, crab, and even some fin fish is higher than ever. With most people wanting to get out of the house and spend the money they’ve saved over the last year and a half, these items are hot commodities with increased demands. There is no way of keeping up with this level of demand especially in an industry that is so dependent on the entire concept of supply and demand. Most places are not even offering any form of crab on their menu because the prices have gone up so much. According to Seafood Source, costs for blue crab have gone up almost 140% in the past couple months making it almost impossible to be profitable off crab menu items. Typical New England boat lobster prices are also higher than normal. Here at BST, we have also seen a rise in scallop prices surrounding the New Bedford Scallop Auction, which is the country’s largest scallop auction, meaning most of the country’s supply is dealing with these higher-than-normal prices. Demand isn’t the only issue causing these high prices. In a supply and demand type situation, high demand can result in issues, but high demand as well as short supply can ultimately change the industry. There are many different supply shortages within the seafood industry resulting in the spike we’re seeing. Transportation (air and ground freight), fuel, packaging, and overall shipping costs have also shot through the roof adding a lot to the base costs of these wholesale seafood services. On top of it all, there is an extreme shortage in labor across all industries. A lot of people have either not gone back to work since the original lockdown or left the industry altogether in fear it would never come back the way it once was. This goes for a lot of fishermen who were nervous they could never make what they did pre-pandemic resulting in them not going back to fishing at all. Many articles regarding to this cost crisis in seafood have mentioned that so many employees are leaving and going into construction jobs because of the competitively high pay. It is difficult for some seafood companies to keep their employees when certain jobs are offering excessive pay just to bring people into the business.
Next time you go out to eat dreading that overly expensive bill, remember that this was an inevitable scenario post-global pandemic. There is a lot more to it than companies surging prices up, it’s not a cookie-cutter type situation while businesses such as wholesalers, restaurants, shipment facilities across the country are adapting in different ways without hurting their client relationships, as well as themselves.
BST would like to thank all our loyal customers during this period and let you know that we are all in this together!