shortage of crabmeat in the catering industry |

DEWEY BEACH, Of the. – A shortage of crab hits some popular Delaware beach restaurants. There is not enough help in catching, picking, packing and shipping shellfish. Restaurants, suppliers and boatmen are feeling the effects of shellfish shortages created by increased demand from businesses returning to normal after the pandemic.

Woody’s owner Jimmy O’Conor is heartbroken. A shortage of blue crabmeat forced him to reduce platters from two crab cakes to one and eliminate takeout. He says most customers understand and some have been grumpy.

“I’ve heard people say you can go for a substandard product, but we’re not willing to do that,” O’Conor said.

Each Woody’s crab cake contains 6 ounces of crabmeat. They consume 150 pounds of crabmeat a day to make 600 crab cakes, but O’Conor is already reducing that number and says he could completely sell crab cakes if he doesn’t get more regular shipments to the next weeks. .

“It’s not like I need ten cases, I need 100 cases and it’s just not available, says O’Conor. , Virginia, all the crab houses are a fraction of what they usually do.”

Suppliers are seeing a shortage of all crab species they sell.

Samuels & Son Seafood Co CEO Sam D’Angelo said: “The shortage has been there since before the coronavirus, but it has increased with the demand that has suddenly arisen, combined with the shortage of shipping lines, of shipping containers and people picking crabs, whether it’s in Indonesia, the Philippines or India, it’s a combined situation where it all came together in a perfect storm.”

Delmarva Fisheries Association

President Robert Newberry says it’s a dry crab season in the Chesapeake Bay because most crabs are currently in the northern part of the bay, but few residents want to pick crabs. “I know there’s been a problem getting our H-2B workers here to pick crabs, because of COVID and all that other stuff, but with all due respect, I think the crabs are at an all-time high right now,” says Newberry. . “They’re well over $300 a bushel out of the retail store.” O’Conor says he pays double the price for blue crabmeat to make his famous crab cakes, but even in a pinch he says he won’t sacrifice the quality of his product. D’Angelo says supply chains should be back to normal by late summer or fall as people switch to other foods and demand for shellfish declines. O’Conor says if the crabmeat runs out, crab cakes could be off the menu for the rest of the season.

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Cecil N. Messick