RUSSIAN RESTAURATEURS FACE SEAFOOD SUPPLY PROBLEMS
Russian restaurateurs face seafood supply problems. Against the background of a sharp decline in the octopus catch in Morocco, Mauritania and Indonesia, as well as a traffic collapse in the Suez Canal, Russian restaurateurs faced a shortage of the product, and some even had to remove dishes from the menu. The situation has already affected prices: since the beginning of summer, octopuses have tripled in price – up to 1.5 thousand rubles. Suppliers promise to stabilise the situation soon.
Sergei Mironov, the founder of ‘Meat & Fish’, spoke about the interruptions in the supply of octopuses to restaurants since the beginning of summer:
“The number of suppliers had sharply decreased by mid-September.” The shortage of the product is confirmed by Henrik Winter, co-owner of the Tigrus restaurant holding (operated by Osteria Mario, Shvili and Bar BQ Cafe).
Suppliers are using a deficit and raising prices, says Alexei Vasilchuk, founder of Restart Vasilchuk Brothers (Chaikhona No.1 chain). In late spring, restaurateurs bought octopuses from Indonesia for 500 rubles. per 1 kg, now it is impossible to find it cheaper than 1.5 thousand rubles, explains Sergey Mironov. Suppliers from Morocco raised the price to 2 thousand rubles. for 1 kg, adds Mr. Winter.
According to the vice-president of the Association of Production and Trade Enterprises of the Fish Market Artem Lomize, there are problems with the supply of large octopuses, which are mainly purchased by restaurateurs. “As an alternative, suppliers offer sand octopus from Sakhalin or frozen food from China, the demand for which among restaurant visitors is low,” says Yevgeny Nichipiruk. Yulia Guzeva, head of HoReCa, a major seafood supplier La Mare, explains that the disruptions were due to a transport collapse in the Suez Canal: “All supply chains have been disrupted, only in a couple of weeks we expect work to be restored”. She assures that the company did not raise prices, for large octopuses they “remained at the level of 1.5 thousand rubles.”
For retail, the problem is not relevant, since sales of octopuses in retail are minimal, says Ilya Bereznyuk, managing partner of Agro & Food Communications, “mostly premium chains buy the product”. Azbuka Vkusa and Globus Gourmet did not answer.
According to estimates of Mr. Lomize, the annual consumption of large octopuses in Russia alone is 200-250 tons. According to the Federal Customs Service, in January-September, 1.16 thousand tons of all kinds of octopuses were imported into Russia, which is 17% less than in the same period of 2019.
Artem Lomize notes that problems with octopuses have arisen not only in the Russian Federation: “Russian traders receive refusals to supply products from Indonesian and Moroccan counterparties due to a shortage of the product on the world market.”
The main reason is a sharp decrease in the octopus catch by 30-40% in Morocco and Mauritania, the expert explains. This was due to a decrease in the number of vessels in the industry and catch quotas, as well as the closure of borders between producing and processing countries. In addition, in Morocco, the fishing catch has decreased due to seasonal fishing bans, and in Indonesia due to unfavorable weather conditions, adds Henrik Winter. Judging by the dynamics in world markets, the supply continues to decline, so a decrease in prices for octopuses is unlikely, Mr. Lomize believes.
At the same time, the expert notes, some “suppliers continue to supply the octopus at a loss to those restaurants where the customer requires a wide range of products: this is necessary to maintain cooperation.” For example, Chaikhona No. 1 and the Sakhalin restaurant (part of Boris Zarkov’s White Rabbit Holding) say they continue to buy octopuses. The increase in prices, Henrik Winter assures, is not completely shifted to customers, forcing restaurateurs to reduce the margins of octopus dishes.