"Pinching At The Supply" - Delaware Restaurants Clawed By Crab Meat Shortage  

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jun 09, 2021 - 08:30 PM

People on holiday are getting crabby in southern Delaware, right down the street from President Joe Biden's vacation home, where a crab shortage has hit many popular restaurants. 

Crab processing plants on the Delmarva Peninsula to Gulf Coast states operate at a fraction of the output due to labor shortages. Crabs coming from Indonesia, the Philippines, and or India have seen shipment delays due to West Coast port congestion. 

This is a perfect storm that started well before the virus pandemic when the Trump administration put a cap on the amount of H-2B workers. Then the virus pandemic hit, and borders closed, limiting the travel of H-2B workers. On top of this, domestic workers have been paid more with Trump and Biden checks to stay home than work.

Rippling down the chain, Dewey Beach's Woody's crab house, located not too far away from Biden's Rehoboth Beach-area home, is weeks away from running out of crab meat because of supply constraints mentioned above, according to WRDE's Mallory Metzner, who said this is all "pinching at the supply." 

Woody's owner Jimmy O'Conor is absolutely "heartbroken" about the shortage that has forced him to cut platters down from two crab cakes and eliminate takeout. The eatery's crabcakes are famous enough that people from out of state would order them through the mail. 

Now O'Conor faces crabby customers as his supplies of crab meat dwindles as suppliers can barely keep up with his weekly orders. 

"It's not like I need ten cases, I need 100 cases and it's just not available, O'Conor said. "People aren't picking crabs down on the Eastern Shore, Virginia, all of the crab houses are at a fraction of what they usually do."

According to Philadelphia-based Samuels & Son Seafood Co Inc CEO Sam D'Angelo, "the shortage has been going on since before the coronavirus, but it was accentuated with the demand that all of a sudden took place combined with the shortage of shipping lines and shipping containers and people picking crabs, whether it's in Indonesia, Philippines or India, it's a combined situation where everything came together in a perfect storm."

D'Angelo said seafood supply chains might not normalize until the end of summer when the demand for crabs resides. 

O'Conor said if his crab meat runs out, crab cakes might be off the menu for the rest of the summer. At the moment, his wholesale costs for crab meat are more than doubled from last year, and the restaurant is forced to pass along the costs to customers to survive.