BATON ROUGE, La. — Associated Grocers of Baton Rouge officials said they were encouraged by the Louisiana Seafood Marketing Association's recent announcement that this year's Louisiana oyster harvest will hit at least pre-Katrina levels.
“It looks like a promising year,” said Mike Bove, vice president, perishables, at AGBR, which supplies more than 200 independent grocers in the region.
“Supply and pricing should be good,” he said.
Local oysters, in fact, took the spotlight at AG's food show last month, Bove told SN.
“We'll be grilling oysters and featuring oysters [in shell] in net bags for our retailers — the first time for that. These are easily opened and will be perfect for family gatherings.”
Usually, AGBR offers its retail members only shucked oysters.
Sourcing Louisiana oysters through a processor with which it has had a long-term relationship served Associated Grocers well during the aftermath of Katrina, when oysters harvests were down, Bove said.
“We were able to stay in supply last year [clear through the holidays] because of our 25-year relationship with Joey's [Oyster Co., Amite, La.].”
Oyster fishing season this year, which opened Sept. 5, is expected to produce adequate supplies of Louisiana oysters through the holiday season for the first time since Hurricane Katrina wiped out many oyster beds in the area.
“The storms of 2005 caused great damage to the Gulf fishing industry, and the oyster fisheries were especially hard hit,” said Michael Voisin, chair of Louisiana's Oyster Task Force. “We went from consistent annual harvests of 250 million pounds of in-shell oysters to much lower production.”
“In the past two years we've made great efforts to repair and reseed the oyster beds throughout our state, and have also been blessed by Mother Nature,” said Voisin.
Louisiana is the nation's leading producer of oysters, with more than a third of all oysters consumed in the U.S. coming from Louisiana waters.