They say a hot cup of seafood gumbo on a cold Louisiana night is good as gold. Now the lump crabmeat in that gumbo cost about as much.
Today’s Ketch Seafood in Chalmette has been in business for 37 years. Owner Jeff Pohlmann says the price of lump crab meat has never been this high.
"Crabmeat is at an all-time high,” Pohlmann said. “What isn’t at an all-time high in today’s world.”
Pohlmann sells a pound of lump crabmeat for about $37 a pound. That’s about $8 higher than last year’s price.
Other parts of the country like the Chesapeake Bay region in Maryland and Virginia, that typically harvest blue crabs have seen dramatic shortages of the tasty crustacean.
They are buying up Louisiana crabs by the truckload. Crabber Bobby Lovell works the waters off of St. Bernard Parish.
“Right now, I’m shipping 100 percent of my crabs up north,” Lovell said. “They have two and three trucks, 18-wheelers that leave just from these local areas that goes up there four days a week, right now.”
That leaves less crabs for the processing plants that pick the meat that ships to area grocery stores and restaurants.
“We sell a 16-ounce gumbo for like $6,” Pohlmann said. “That’s with the rice and all included. That was lower last year, but all of the ingredients that go into it, drive the prices up.”
The same goes for his stuffed crabs and stuffed bell peppers.
“Our containers, anything, our roll towels, just everything is just extremely high,” Pohlmann said. “Of course, that drives prices of other things up too.”
As expensive as lump crabmeat is these days, the price of jumbo lump crab is even higher. Some stores in Louisiana are now selling it for more than $65 a pound.
“Crab is in high demand and short supply,” Lovell said. “I just think the demand for crab is so high, you have a product that’s short, you can pretty much name your price and you’re going to get it.”
The cost of labor, supplies, and shipping have also gone up and the fact that there are fewer crabbers catching crabs, all factor into the higher price of seafood.
Polmann said the wintertime is typically when the price of crabmeat is at its highest. He’s hoping the cost will come down this spring.