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Snow crabs join bargain for crustaceans

Nov. 16, 2023 - 12:57 By Kim So-hyun

Joining the rush for half-priced king crabs, the price of imported snow crabs has also plunged as US and European bans on Russian seafood imports, together with declining consumption in China, have led to increased supply here.

According to local seafood sales platform The Pirates on Thursday, the average price of Russian snow crabs has dropped to 57,200 won per kilogram, down 23.7 percent from a high of 75,000 won on Sep. 29. The online exclusive sale price has more than halved compared to two months ago to as low as 35,000 won per kilo.

That's a relative bargain, considering how prices of crustaceans usually rise in the last two months of the year with their increased demand for year-end parties.

South Koreans have been enjoying a king crab bonanza over the past month after leading retailers such as E-mart and Homeplus sold Russian-imported red king crabs at nearly half the price of the previous month.

The decline in the prices of crustaceans here has a lot to do with the war in Ukraine.

As the US and Europe, major consumers of Russian crustaceans, prohibited Russian seafood imports as part of sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, greater volumes were exported to Asian countries such as China and South Korea.

But as China’s economy continues to slow down, the country’s consumption of seafood greatly dropped, shrinking consumption in Asia as a whole, and leaving much greater volumes available for Korea.

However, it is unclear whether the downward trend in crustacean prices will continue as their prices fluctuate a lot depending on the import timing and volumes, market watchers say.

Seafood prices are set through daily auctions in wholesale markets, and crustaceans are known for their wide range of price fluctuation.