Cold weather means less crawfish

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Darren Arseneaux, a cook at Fatty's Restaurant, dumps a basket of crawfish to be boiled. Earlier Arseneaux, along with Hunter Timberlake, separated the live crawfish from the dead ones and purged them.

Darren Arseneaux, a cook at Fatty’s Restaurant, dumps a basket of crawfish to be boiled. Earlier Arseneaux, along with Hunter Timberlake, separated the live crawfish from the dead ones and purged them.

Crawfish season is kicking into gear and buyers will be paying more for their purchases.

Due to the unusually cold and extended winter, crawfish are scarce and expensive.  During cold weather, crawfish eat less and stay hidden at the bottom of ponds and streams, which means smaller and harder to find crawfish for farmers, and higher prices for buyers.

“Typically we’re selling it for much less than what we are selling it at now,” said Erin Hains, manager at Fatty’s Seafood Restaurant.

Right now Fatty’s is selling five pounds of boiled crawfish with corn and potatoes for $23.95.

At Claiborne Hill, boiled crawfish is selling for $4.79 a pound and live crawfish is selling for $3.99 a pound.

“People want crawfish, but they get turned off by the price being so high,” said Ron Bathke, manager of the seafood department at Claiborne Hill.

Bathke said once carnival season ends, the prices tend to drop a little, but this year prices didn’t drop like Bathke thought they would.

He said due to last weeks cold weather, fewer crawfish are available, which means prices couldn’t go any lower.

While prices aren’t where customers would like, it didn’t stop Claiborne Hill from selling out on Monday.

Hains said Fatty’s hasn’t had a problem keeping up with demand because they work with several different suppliers to make sure they always have enough crawfish to sell.

Bathke said their crawfish supply comes from three different Louisiana suppliers, whereas Hains said Fatty’s gets their crawfish from Mississippi and Louisiana suppliers.

Hains is expecting crawfish prices to start going down, especially after Easter.

Soon, Fatty’s will also start selling live crawfish by the pound and boiled crawfish to go, Hains said.

Louisiana is the number one producer of crawfish and last year, the LSU AgCenter estimated 91 million pounds of crawfish was produced. The 91 million pounds is estimated to have had a value of $152.8 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.