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Russia imports more than 30,000 tons of live crabs, but importers generally suffer losses

In 2023, China's imports of Russian live crabs (including king crabs, snow crabs, hairy crabs, etc.) will increase by 50%, but some importers have reported that the market is too chaotic, making it unprofitable for many people.

UCN trade data shows that China imported 30,107 tons of Russian live crabs last year, a year-on-year increase of 50%; the average price was $32.50/kg, lower than $35.33/kg in 2022.

The increase in frozen crab imports is even more significant, with imports in 2023 reaching 10,744 tons, much higher than 3,300 tons in 2022, and the average price falling from $18.36/kg to $11.09/kg.

Market consensus is that behind the sharp increase in Russian crab imports is the rising acceptance of Chinese consumers and the U.S. trade ban on Russia, which has forced more Russian crabs to flow into Asia. However, not all importers will benefit due to competition and a slowing economy.

An importer told UCN: "Supply continues to increase while consumer demand lags, and the import business of king crab and snow crab is no longer profitable. Russia has live crabs shipped to coastal cities by ship every month, and the largest The ship carries more than 200 tons and is produced in the Barents Sea. It is conceivable that those crabs in western Russia are betting on the Chinese market."

Mr. Wang Da, chairman of Shanghai King Crab Group, the largest domestic king crab importer, told UCN: "There are 30-40 large and small importers in China, and we estimate that 90% are losing money. A lot of hot money has poured into this industry, and even State-owned enterprises are also involved, leading to disorderly competition."

Currently, land transportation is the main channel for importing Russian crabs. Wang Da said that of the 30,000 tons of imported live crabs, about 22,000 to 23,000 tons entered the Chinese market from Hunchun through land transportation. The advantage of land transportation is lower cost, but the mortality rate is higher than that of sea transportation. Among the 30,000 tons of live crabs, the number of king crabs is about 20,000 tons, and the rest are snow crabs and hairy crabs.

Wang Da predicts that the price of king crab this year will be lower than last year due to increased supply and sluggish consumption in China.

"Russia is increasing its quota every year, and most of the king crabs are sold to China at high prices. I predict that this year will be a very difficult year." Wang Da said.


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