'It's crab sandwiches or nothing' - businesses hit by north Norfolk shellfish shortage
PUBLISHED: 12:54 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:23 17 August 2018
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012
North Norfolk has been hit by a crab shortage as fishermen say they are struggling to keep up with demand.
A combination of storms earlier in the year and the recent heat wave has resulted in a shortage, with one fisherman describing it as “a generally bad year”.
Andy Frary, owner of A and M Frary Shellfish, in Wells, said: “Last year we were catching 14 to 15 boxes a day, but now we’re struggling to do five or six.
“I’d say we’re catching 30pc of what we’d expect.”
Mr Frary, 58, added: “We’ve had a shortage for nearly a month.
“It’s not just north Norfolk. The Beast from the East has destroyed a lot of the stock and fisherman aren’t catching as much.
“We are struggling to keep up with demand.
“The problem is the conditions, and its just a generally bad year.
“We had a bad year in 2012 and you have cycles of good and bad years. We’ve just been unlucky.”
Mr Frary’s business supplies pubs and restaurants from Wells to Overstrand with shellfish.
He said the combination of the “best summer we’ve had in 30 years” with the demand for crab being so high has meant the restaurants have sold a lot more crab than they normally would.
“The heat wave we’ve had could well be affecting it, he said.
“The shellfish tend to get a bit lazier in the hot weather. They’re a bit like people - we just sit around in the heat too.
“We sell out early every day early and you get a lot of people coming into the store asking why.”
And businesses say they have also been affected by the shortage.
Mark Kacary, managing director of Norfolk Deli, in Hunstanton, said: “Our supplier’s been unable to get us any crab in three weeks.
“He was able to get some at the early part of the season and then it became intermittent, as there were no boats going out.”
Mr Kacary, 58, added: “In the course of a week at this time of year we’d be doing 200 to 300 crabs, both platters and whole.
“People visit the Norfolk seaside and one of the things they want is a crab sandwich.
“They look disbelieving when they can’t have one. It’s crab sandwiches or nothing.
“The public have been groomed by supermarkets into thinking that whatever time of year things are always available.
“From a trade point of view it is affecting us. We could order crab from Cornwall but then it’s not local Norfolk crab.”
Have you been affected by north Norfolk’s shellfish shortage? Email Jessica.Frank-Keyes@archant.co.uk