Crawfish Pricing 101

Supply and demand relationships are reflected in the way prices vary from year to year and from week to week during the harvest season. In Louisiana, the average annual pond bank price paid to producers from 1997 through 2004 was $0.60 to $0.80 per pound when annual supply ranged from 70 to 85 million pounds. There were exceptions in 2000 and 2001 when low supply from both aquaculture and the wild crop pushed average statewide wholesale prices to more than $1.24 per pound. Seasonally, prices are highest in winter and early spring when supply is relatively low. Prices decline significantly in late spring and summer when supply peaks and the supply of and demand for other fresh seafoods, such as shrimp and crabs, increase.

     In Louisiana, the price for “field run” crawfish may decline as much as 40 to 55 percent for several weeks during peak production (April and May) if crawfish quality (usually size) decreases. The drop in price for larger crawfish is usually much less. In recent years, large crawfish have commanded a wholesale price two to three times higher than that paid for medium to small crawfish.  Wholesale buyers pay relatively uniform prices from day to day or week to week, with no single buyer or group of buyers exerting excessive control over pond-bank prices. But when crawfish supplies are high, wholesalers and processors can exert price leverage over producers, usually because of their ability, or inability, to move large volumes of crawfish in the live market.

     Some buyers offer premium prices to their larger, more loyal or more consistent suppliers. Although wholesale prices for peeled crawfish tail meat are not published, the wholesale price of a pound of tail meat is usually about ten to twelve times higher than the wholesale price of a pound of live crawfish.