Scallops, the No. 1 shellfish producer, have become cheaper by nearly 30% in one month.


According to Gendai Business on September 21, has there ever been a time when this bivalve shellfish has been so much in the spotlight? The scallop is a member of the family Itayagaiidae, and is caught mainly in Hokkaido, but also along the Tohoku coast and elsewhere.

In late August of this year, China imposed a total embargo on Japanese marine products following the release of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

The country is Japan’s largest exporter of marine products, and its dependence on imports, including Hong Kong, exceeds 40%. At the top of the list is scallops, which have suddenly lost their way, leading to a massive increase in domestic inventories and a sharp drop in prices.

In fact, they are Japan’s second largest producer.
Although not widely known, Japan’s scallop production, mainly from aquaculture, totaled approximately 510,000 tons (2022 Fishery and Aquaculture Production Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), accounting for 13% of the country’s total production. Although the weight includes shellfish, it is second only to Japanese sardines (approx. 610,000 tons) by type of fish and shellfish. Among shellfish, it is the No. 1 producer, far exceeding oysters (approx. 170,000 tons).

Scallops are produced in abundance in Japan. They are a versatile food, and can be enjoyed as sashimi, grilled, fried, etc. At barbecues, scallops are grilled in their shells. At a barbecue, scallops can be grilled in their shells, and when the shells open, they can be drizzled with soy sauce and topped with butter, which will surely bring out their savory aroma and whet your appetite. Scallops are probably a favorite of many people.

Perhaps it is because they are so versatile that they are somewhat less premium than other high-end seafood. For example, seafood from Hokkaido, the main production area of scallops, includes crab, salmon roe, and sea urchin.

All of these are served on top of a bowl of rice as the main ingredient, with other seafood sprinkled on top, and are firmly established as expensive luxury ingredients, but you do not see many scallop bowls on their own.

It is a luxury item that is slightly different from its image.
If anything, scallops are usually served on boats or in seafood bowls as a side dish next to tuna or white fish.

Apart from their deliciousness, scallops’ whitish hue seems to be insufficient as a coloring element in a bowl of rice, and it seems that tuna and foreign salmon are more easily displayed on the menu, which means that scallops can be expected to “look good” on social networking sites such as Instagram. Among other shellfish, oysters are a mainstay in fried and nabe dishes, but scallops are somewhat more subdued.

Although scallops are one of Japan’s leading products in terms of production, they have a somewhat supporting role in the overall image of marine products and should be distributed at a reasonable price. However, due to the increase in demand overseas, backed by exports, the price of scallops has risen remarkably over the past ten years.

The market price of frozen scallops (peeled) at the seafood wholesale market in Hakodate, Hokkaido, the main scallop production area, was 900-2,500 yen per kilogram (excluding tax) in the fall of 2013, ten years ago, but this September, the price has risen significantly to 3,700-5,400 yen per kilogram.

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