Economic conditions due to COVID-19 has taken a toll on the restaurant distribution of shrimp. Grocery stores and markets continue to receive and stock frozen shrimp as a valuable protein.
Gulf shrimp landing reports continue to be inconclusive based on the information reported to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials. The lack of data being collected at the ports has resulted in NOAA issuing a disclaimer in their monthly report that all result are estimates only. Based on previous years’ final reporting, the numbers we are seeing now may adjust to a significantly higher total catch volume once the yearly overview of the fishery as a whole is conducted.
Even with substandard reporting levels, the fact that the landings are down is incontrovertible. Boats, docks and processors are seeing a noticeable decrease in yield. Texas waters, which typically accounts for the majority of wild-caught Gulf shrimp, have seen the largest decline in landings in comparison to other coastal states with some estimates reaching over a 50% decrease. Limited supply is driving ex-vessel prices up which means we may start seeing higher prices in markets nationwide until the summer season kicks off.
What we do see still coming in during these first few months of the year are Pink shrimp caught off the coast of Florida along with some white shrimp being brought in as well. The waters brown shrimp are most abundant are not in season yet so any inventory out there is all that will be available until additional fishing grounds are opened as the year progresses. Shrimp in the range of U/15 and larger headless and head-on are in high demand and have a very limited available volume, purchasing when available is recommended. Medium sized shrimp are primarily what we continue to see coming off the boats at this time.