Demand For King Crab Rises During Holidays

A seafood display case. File photo by Margaret Bauman.

Ups and downs of the domestic and global seafood economy aside, the demand for succulent crab, salmon and halibut proved a hot seller during the 2023 holiday season, with king crab in highest demand by far.

Fish markets from Seattle to Anchorage said demand was on par with the 2022 holiday season.

Pike Place Fish Market was busy shipping out whole Alaska golden king crab to domestic retail customers nationwide in the last week of December 2023 at $349.99 apiece, not including shipping, fishmongers at the Seattle market said.

Sales were also brisk at the world-famous seafood market for cooked bairdi snow crab at $59.98 for two pounds; Dungeness crab from Oregon, Washington and Alaska, at $49.99 a pound; and legs and claws of Alaska golden king crab at $139.98 for two pounds.

Anchorage’s two most popular retail seafood markets were doing brisk sales in Russian red king crab, in the wake of an executive order from the Biden administration on Dec. 22 that ended imports of any seafood harvested from Russian waters or otherwise harvested by Russian vessels. The executive order specified that after 60 days, any Russian seafood under contract prior to Dec. 22 must be delivered to U.S. domestic markets and thereafter banned from entry to the U.S.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control identified salmon, cod, pollock and crab as the seafood subject to the ban.

American seafood processors and the state’s congressional delegation have sought the ban since Russia, in 2014, banned the import of American seafood into Russia.

10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage found sales brisk for Russian red king crab and Alaska golden king crab, both for $42.95 a pound, shipping not included, with orders generally for three to five pounds per customer at their downtown Anchorage shop.

Sales were also brisk for 10th & M’s fillets of king salmon at $21.95 a pound, silver salmon at $12.95 a pound and halibut, at $27.95 a pound. Sales staff said average orders for the salmon fillets were about five pounds and up to 10 pounds for halibut.

At New Sagaya’s seafood shop, the featured items included five-pound packages of Alaska red king crab at $399, Alaska golden king crab, for $279, sockeye salmon fillets for $189 and Alaska halibut for $249, with shipping included.

Anchorage-based online seafood purveyor FishEx ran an end of the year special on Bering Sea red king crab legs from Russia for $39.95 a pound, Alaska snow crab for $29.95 a pound, and 20 pound cases of those Russian Bering Sea red crab legs for $699. FishEx has a flat shipping rate of $39 for all orders up to $400. At the higher level, shipping is free.