‘Oyster bars are like cigars in the ‘90s, they are hot’

More and more oyster bars are opening up in the US, with demand also coming on strong from Asia, said Christian Callahan, vice president of Ipswich Shellfish Company.

Callahan said several new bars are opening up in Boston at the moment, a trend also being seen in other US cities.

“It’s like cigars in the ‘90s, they are hot,” he said, speaking at the Global Seafood Market Conference, held this week in Miami, Florida.

On the production side, the Chesapeake Bay has taken up the slack from the impact on Gulf production from the BP oil spill.

“There are literally billions of oysters being put into the Chesapeake,” said Callahan.

There were 9.8m cultured oysters in the Chesapeake Bay in 2008 and 28.1m in 2012, according to data from the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

Then, as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and its impact on oysters in the region, Asian buyers started to come knocking.

First it was the Japanese, then the Hong Kong Chinese and then mainland Chinese, said Callahan.

Production in the US went from 80% shucked to 80% whole in the shell, to address this Asian shortage, he said.

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