Bars, pubs and restaurants need to prepare for higher prices from an imminent global shortage of cold-water prawns, according to a leading supplier of cooked and peeled cold-water prawns.
Royal Greenland says the shortage is caused by declining fishing quotes combined with rising demand, partly driven by a lack of availability of warm-water prawns that have been dying early.
Stocks of cold-water prawns are also low because of a long cold winter in Canada and Greenland has meant that thick ice prevented trawlers being able to fish.
Royal Greenland has warned its customers that it is unable to accept any additional orders or guarantee prices as the cost of raw material has “rocketed”.
Randall Jennings, managing director in the UK, said: “This is an industry-wide problem affecting all suppliers. It’s a unique situation that has never been seen before, but can be attributed to a number of factors.
“Over the past three years, the Canadian and Greenlandic quota for cold-water prawns has declined by 95,000 tonnes, equal to 33% of the total annual catch.
“At the same time, the global demand for cooked and peeled cold-water prawns has gone up due to low supply and high prices of warm-water prawns – where farmed king and tiger varieties have been plagued with early mortality syndrome (EMS).
“The extremely cold and longer winter in Canada and Greenland also meant that thick ice prevented trawlers getting out to catch the prawns in early April, reducing the weight of raw material that could be caught.
“Consequently, all stocks in the market are very low and prices are increasing rapidly. Over the past six weeks, raw material prices increased by more than 40% and it looks as if they will continue to rise.”
It is expected that cold-water prawns will reach a ceiling price before Christmas. Royal Greenland is advising chefs and caterers to factor in price increases on any prawn dishes featured on their menus.
Royal Greenland added that it is doing all that it can to get stock to customers at the best market price but asked customers to be understanding in terms of product uniformity, with a view to agreeing specification changes with individual customers, including smaller prawns to fulfil volume requirements.
Jennings added: “We are doing all we can to fulfil current orders and to prevent a situation like this occurring again. Reduced fishing should help to protect future stock, and we are actively looking to increase our access to North Atlantic stock and processing facilities to help us avoid being in this situation again.”