John Sackton

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Editor and Publisher — SeafoodNews.com

Posts by John Sackton 61 results

Why Has the Shellfish Market Fallen So Hard?

U.S. shellfish, including snow crab, lobster tail, king crab and crabmeat, have all experienced some of their most rapid, and in some cases steepest, market declines in the past eight months. But shrimp, by far the largest volume shellfish item, has not seen a significant price decline. Urner Barry’s (UB) value-added shrimp index has barely moved, even while the volume of U.S. shrimp imports continue to set records. What factors made shellfish so vulnerable to a rapid correction, but ...

What Lessons Can Today’s Seafood Marketers Learn From the 2009 Recession?

The last time the seafood industry faced a genuine crisis was during the economic recession that started in 2008–09. During that time, retailers prospered and foodservice contracted. However, retail prospered by giving customers the opportunity to trade down to less expensive products. Looking at major seafood items, almost every single commodity lost substantial value between 2008 and 2010–2012, as U.S. consumers changed their buying habits. This is the situation we are heading ...

Is the Snow Crab Market a Bellwether or a Blip?

In the U.S., snow crab outperformed every other seafood product during the pandemic. Yet today, the snow crab market is crashing at the fastest pace since the spring of 1995. That year, between May 1995 and May 1996, the price fell 46 per cent. This year, Urner Barry quotations from last summer until this May are down 33 per cent and the bottom has not been set. This is already the largest percentage decline in price since 1995. Since February, the market has been going down around 50 ...

Anti-Russia Sanctions Could Hit Crab, Groundfish with Price Volatility

On February 24, Russia mounted a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, dashing any lingering hopes of a smaller-scale, more contained event. In the build-up to this conflict, the U.S. has managed to forge a stronger united front with Western Europe than most expected. Germany’s decision to suspend the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline, which will lead to sharply higher energy prices in Europe and elsewhere, is a measure of how seriously the Western governments are taking the invasion. Sanctions are ...

2021 Was Fantastic for Seafood as Disruption Played to Our Strengths

The seafood industry is coming off a fantastic year, despite the turmoil and disruption of the pandemic. First, some numbers. When I went to analyze what happened with the U.S. seafood supply in 2021, I was blown away by our success. Using the data through October as a proxy for the year, we imported 4.2 billion pounds, six per cent over the volume of 2020 and 11 per cent over the volume of 2019. The value of these imports was up a staggering 24 per cent from their values in 2020. De...

Destabilized Supply Chain Here to Stay

The seafood industry has one of the most complex supply chains of all food commodities. Despite the disruption caused by the global pandemic, much of our industry has thrived due to the simultaneous surge in demand for our products. The higher demand has provided the money to cover the costs of extreme disruption, whether that is freight rates and driver shortages, temporary plant closures, or lack of plant workers. This demand surge has buffered us from the risks in our higher-cost ...

Seafood Inflation May Be Less Than Meets the Eye

In the past couple of months, several news stories have highlighted the difficulty some restaurants are having coping with higher seafood prices. “Very few products are not going up in price,” Santa Monica Seafood President and CEO Roger O’Brien told SeafoodSource recently. The price inflation in the distributor, processor and food service operators’ sales to foodservice customers alone was a “whopping 29 per cent” in June, O’Brien said. This surge was a result of a ...

The Seafood Industry and the Bullwhip Effect

Seafood trading is hard when a couple of bad decisions on pricing or timing can wreck a business. As a result, we are trained to focus on short-term problems. Most of our time is spent managing supply, shipping and customer needs within a six-to-12-week time frame. This can obscure long-term issues that will transform our business. The last year is a great illustration of this and we are not out of the woods yet. When the pandemic first hit the U.S. in March of 2020, seafood prices ...

Why is the Seafood Industry Vulnerable to Seaspiracy Lies and Falsehoods?

The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy was released the last week of March 2021 and was in the top 10 most viewed Netflix movies that week in several countries. It has generated a wave of social media and critical reaction from fisheries scientists and has been the focus of several industry panel discussions. Much of the criticism is based on the fact that the documentary repeats a huge number of lies and simplifications that obscure the relationship between fishing and ocean ecosystems, ...

The U.S. Seafood Market Firing on All Cylinders Could Raise Global Market Share

All of us have been amazed at the strength exhibited by frozen food and in particular frozen seafood during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than the collapse of foodservice leading to less consumption, American consumers used money they saved by not eating out to increase their share of higher end retail seafood purchases. This was dramatically evident in the retail demand for crab and lobster and it has been reflected in pricing. But another interesting thing is happening in the ...