Goodbye, Seafood? Inflation and Shortages Have Restaurants Taking Items Off the Menu

Maine lobster

For many restaurants and bars across the U.S., reopening post-lockdowns hasn’t been easy. Eateries have had to entice workers back with higher wages and deal with inventory shortages and inflated prices. According to Bloomberg, shortages have been across the board — from condiment packets, takeout packaging and various chicken items.

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The summer season is supposed to be the period when restaurants are bringing in more cash; however, seafood restaurants are now experiencing a jump in seafood prices as they try to recover from the aftermath of the pandemic. Bloomberg reported that seafood prices rose nearly 11% over the past year, according to data from NielsenIQ.

There are several factors causing the shortages and price jumps — ports are congested, there aren’t enough fishermen, there aren’t enough truck drivers and demand for seafood at restaurants is soaring.

Gavin Gibbons, vice president of communications at the National Fisheries Institute, estimated that port-related costs are on track to be 20 times higher than last year due to “serious delays” caused by labor shortages, reports Bloomberg. The lack of fishermen can be attributed to restaurant shutdowns during the pandemic, forcing many to find new jobs.

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According to Sysco Corp, higher prices for cod are due to a shortage of shipping containers. Meanwhile, lobster inventory has been low since COVID-19 restrictions last summer reduced Canadian boat crews going out to sea during the catching season, Sysco said in an email.

Demand for seafood is also at an all-time high. Hawaii is dealing with a shortage of ahi on the islands as high customer demand continues. Mike Goto, United Fishing Agency auction manager, told local news outlet KITV that there’s an “influx of tourism coming into the state right now. It’s unprecedented to see that much demand come so quickly after a rough year in 2020.”

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The U.S. Foods Seafood Trends Farmer’s Report shows an overall price increase for seafood products and a lack of inventory in some cases.

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Last updated: July 30, 2021

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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