SEATTLE — The retail cost of crab from Alaska is dropping substantially after it skyrocketed last summer, in what could end up being a big win for Seattle area seafood restaurants and crab lovers.
Just in time for the big summer crowds, many restaurants like the Crab Pot restaurant on the Seattle waterfront are expecting to see a big jump in demand for crab.
Industry experts said there is bigger supply this year over previous years and there are some great deals to be had.
“I am a crab lover," said Jeff Winberg, who’s visiting Seattle from Idaho. "I get it probably whenever I can. I can probably eat my weight in crab meat."
And, it’s a great time for many Puget Sound seafood restaurants.
“Our freezers are packed with Alaskan crab,” said Nick Novello with Crab Pot Seattle on Pier 57.
The cost of crab from Alaska has dropped substantially over last year.
"Last year it was double it was now," Novello said. "Last year, Dungeness crab was in the $17.50 range per pound. Pre-pandemic they were $6.25 to $7.50 a pound. Now, they came back down to the $8 range."
While the prices of some types of Alaskan crab, including Dungeness and snow crab, are reverting back to pre-pandemic levels, king crab prices may stay high for a while longer, experts say.
As for Alaskan crab, it was a rough season for them last year, and it is likely going to be a tough season for them again this year, according to industry experts.
There are several reasons for the price drop for other crab varieties, however.
“It’s the first time that inflation is working to our advantage," Novello said. "We had big countries taking our crab ---Japan and China. This year, with inflation in their countries, they’re not taking as much, which is leaving Alaska producers with freezers full of crab, giving us an opportunity to purchase that at a lower rate than where we were before."
Restaurants like the Crab Pot on Pier 57 are jumping at the opportunity.
“What we are focusing on is different species of crab that are not in house right now," Novello said. "One of them is Bairdi Crab, known as the Queen of Crabs here as a special."
Novello said the restaurant is bringing in Bairdi Crab at the lowest cost they’ve seen in a while, hoping that customers will choose to sample it.
Jake Jacobsen, of Inter-Cooperative Exchange, one of the largest cooperative of crab fisherman, said the prices for snow crab have also been dropping.
“It has been dropping since January (and) it looks like it’s finally steadying off,” he said. “Prices have come down quite a bit. It’s very affordable now.”
Jon Speltz, with Wild Salmon Seafood Market at Fishermen’s Terminal, said change is coming.
“We experienced tremendous 'fish-inflation' over the years because of COVID,” he said “As people move through inventory and we get more production and the price of production comes down, the price of both Dungeness crab and King crab is going to come down in price.”