Seafood restaurants, businesses facing oyster shortages

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – If you’re looking for these seafood staples this weekend, chances are you won’t be able to find them. This is due to a shortage of supply and increased demand. Now coastal vendors are working hard to keep them on their menus.

Seafood business owner Sean Desporte tasted his own product. He knows that lately, oysters have become a hot commodity, so some seafood outlets no longer sell them.

“I heard a lot of restaurants in Louisiana took them off their menu,” Desporte said.

Because oysters are hard to come by these days, the price for pints, pints, gallons, and bags has gone up. This means that Desporte pays more.

“They were a little hard to get, so of course I’m looking after the vendors who are selling to me, to make sure they’re taking care of us,” Desporte said. “I give them a little more money so that we have them and don’t run out.”

In Gulfport, at the Coast Foods warehouse, they also stocked up.

“These are what we call mini bags,” Coast Foods President Mark McQueen said. “They average about 40 pounds each. We produce on average between 1,500 and 1,800 bags per week which we use for a few different suppliers.

McQueen says several factors caused the problem, but most of the problem can be attributed to the Bonnet Carré spillway.

“The oyster farmers deposited shells, but the fresh water passed,” he recalls. “The spat didn’t have a chance to take on the fresh shell. So it’s about six months late. Right now we’re looking at six to eight months before the industry can somehow recover.

Texas also had a bad season and was forced to shut down early. This created even more supply chain issues.

“We will order 600 bags and we will have maybe 300,” he added. “It’s a constant catch-up game at this stage.”

Since last year, the cost of bagged oysters has increased by approximately 35%. And even if the trend continues, McQueen and Desporte say they will do their best to keep delivering.

“We’re not going to run out of it,” remarked Desporte.

The price of oysters in most restaurants has also increased for customers. In Louisiana, oysters were selling for $60 a gallon before Hurricane Ida. Right now, they’re selling for nearly $100 a gallon.

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