(MENAFN) In a significant market shift, the Japanese seafood industry is experiencing a substantial influx of Russian snow crab imports, resulting in a sharp decline in crab meat prices. According to a report by Nikkei, the surge in imports is attributed to the United States embargo on Russian seafood purchases, prompting a surge in Russian crab meat's share of total Japanese imports to 68.8 percent in the first three quarters of the current year.
The report indicates that Japan imported crab meat worth 35.8 billion yen (approximately USD244 million) during this period, with Russia accounting for products valued at 24.6 billion yen (USD167 million). This surge has contributed to a noteworthy drop in the prices of Russian-caught snow crabs, currently fetching around 2,000 yen (USD14) per kilogram in the Japanese wholesale market—a significant 33% decrease compared to the average prices in 2022.
Comparatively, Canadian crab meat now sells for 1,800 yen per kilogram, while Norway's product is priced at around 1,900 yen per kilogram, marking substantial declines of 32 percent and 51percent, respectively, from last year's average prices. Furthermore, Russian-sourced red king crab is being sold at approximately 5,000 yen per kilogram, reflecting a 38 percent discount from the 2022 average.
Meanwhile, Japanese consumers continue to perceive domestically-caught crab as a distinct and more luxurious product, with wholesale prices ranging between 15,000 to 16,000 yen per kilogram—almost 20 percent higher than last year's figures. A source familiar with Japan's market dynamics noted that consumers view domestic and imported crab differently, leading to a lack of direct competition between the two categories.
This article explores the transformative impact of increased Russian snow crab imports on the Japanese seafood market, examining the factors driving the surge, its repercussions on pricing dynamics, and the consumer perception that distinguishes between domestic and imported crab products.
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