Young's Bluecrest, the largest supplier of seafood in Britain, has sounded the alert over rising prices for breaded scampi.
While UK sales of frozen breaded scampi continue to grow, rising by 15% to £46m and increasing by 16% in volume (TNS 52 w/e 13 August) making it the most buoyant sector of frozen seafood, landings of raw material are at their lowest for a number of years, according to the company.
The combination of low supply and high demand is sure to be reflected in increased retail pricing over coming weeks. The UK scampi (langoustine/nephrops) fishery has yet to land about 50% of this year's quota, with just 16 weeks to go until the season ends in December. Nephrops is the highest value sector within retail seafood in the UK.
As the UK's biggest scampi buyer, Young's has long-standing relationships with the fishery in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, where it has introduced Young's Trace, ground-breaking traceability equipment that also produces detailed environmental and supply data.
This year, unusual breeding patterns and poor weather at the start of the season have combined to reduce the catch.
Mike Mitchell, director of scampi for Young's, said: "With Young's Trace now up and running, we understand the ecology of the fishery better than ever before. This year spawning started unusually late. It looks unlikely that landings will catch up and fill this season's quota."
Port prices are currently about 30% higher than last year, and strong European demand for whole langoustines has further increased price pressures.
Commercial director Jim Cane said: "We should be able to fill the usual retail demand, but standard pricing will have to rise. Now is a good time for retailers and producers to work together to improve consumer appreciation of scampi."