Oyster farmers believe that the holiday season will help the industry rebound from pandemic-related fall in demand.
One of the major industries in the great state of Mayland is harvesting seafood. Besides the Maryland Blue Crab, which has been one of the official state animals since 1989, the oyster is a popular and important part of Maryland’s seafood industry. In 2020, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation found, “…oyster aquaculture operations in Maryland contribute an average of $9 million per year to the state’s economy and the industry has grown by about 24 percent per year since 2012. However, that continued growth is being threatened due to business closures associated with the coronavirus pandemic.” It is of no surprise that demand for oysters dropped. Often seen as a very social and labor-intensive food, the way we eat oysters is not conducive to life in a pandemic.
Thankfully it appears the industry may be turning a corner. Thus far the data seems to indicate that there is an abundant number of oysters that can be harvested from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Prices also seem to be rising to about $35 a bushel, that’s up from their pandemic lows of $30 but still below the pre-pandemic price of $40.
With a sizable portion of the state’s population being fully vaccinated and consumers ready to get back out and socialize, many restaurants are seeing summertime demand well into the fall. But as inflation and supply chain crunches are hitting many budgets, the oyster rebound has not been universal and questions remain for how long it can last.
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