Demand For Md. Crabs Far Greater Than Actual Supply

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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JESSUP, Md. (WJZ) — It is a summer tradition in these parts, especially around the Fourth of July. We’re talking about eating crabs.

As Mike Schuh reports–there are plenty available, as long as you’re not picky about where they came from.

The sun rises over the Chesapeake. Crabs are landing aboard Maryland boats.

Here, every crab that makes it to market from Maryland is quickly scooped up.

“Anyone who lives in landlocked areas, they don’t have availability to crabs. They usually call us,” said Don Lee, mdcrabbers.com.

Don Lee sells live and steamed crabs on the Internet. His jumbos go for $110 a dozen. He loaded three bushels Friday morning.

He’d like to get Maryland crabs, but he’s happy to get jumbos from North Carolina.

“Now it’s starting to pick up in Maryland, so we want to buy as much Maryland as possible,” Lee said.

Picking up, but not nearly enough local crabs to satisfy demand. At dawn, this truck was full of crabs.

“Wel,l in this truck right here we have Louisiana product,” said Russell Knapp, buyer.

Russell Knapp is a buyer for J.J. McDonald.

“This size right here on the street is $200 today,” he said.

That’s wholesale per bushel.

Louisiana is fine, but he’s trying to get as many Maryland crabs as he can get.

“There are some big Maryland crabs here, but they’re just not enough to satisfy the people,” Knapp said.

Which brings us to the big question: does the water matter? Louisiana? North Carolina? Maryland?

These are all the same blue crab.

“Maryland, it has a distinct flavor to it that’s a little bit different from Louisiana. But it would be hard for most people who eat crabs to know the difference between them,” said Knapp.

“They prefer Maryland crabs, the taste,” said Lee.

So, we’re locked in the battle of supply and demand. Taste, cost, scarcity.

Luckily, there are plenty of crabs, just so long as they don’t have to be from these waters.

Wholesalers say heavier and larger Maryland crabs should be coming in the next couple of weeks.

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