A squid shortage? Just blame it on the weather

Squid is displayed for sale at a wet market in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2018. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa
Squid is displayed for sale at a wet market in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2018. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, January 7 — In the world of seafood, the humble squid is pretty low in the value chain.

It is not a commodity that comes to mind when you hear about people “hoarding” goods to create artificial demand.

However, the lowly seafood has been rumoured to be in short supply at local markets recently, but checks done at the Raja Bot Market (more commonly referred to as the Chow Kit market) last Friday showed that squid was abundantly available. On that day.

Fishmonger Khairul Osman, 35, said deliveries for squid have always been stable but in the last few days he had barely received 10 kilogrammes (kilos) of locally caught squid for his stall.

“Due to bad weather recently we did not receive local squid in the past few days. It is common for bad weather to affect fishermen's catch.

Dried cuttlefish is displayed for sale at a wet market in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2018.
Dried cuttlefish is displayed for sale at a wet market in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2018.

“However, our daily delivery of squid returned to normal as of today,” he said.

So it looks like it’s the weather and not unscrupulous businessmen behind this sotong “shortage.”

The price of a squid also varies depending on size and where it is caught, as well as supply and demand.

The average price of squid from Thailand (roughly the length of an index finger) is RM19 per kilo while locally caught squid is RM22 per kilo.

Another fishmonger, Kuek Yai Ming, 30 said, “It is difficult to say whether the price will go up or down. It all depends on whether we receive a huge supply of it. It may cost RM16 per kilo today but it may drop to RM14 per kilo tomorrow.

“But locally caught squid is always slightly more expensive compared to squid imported from Thailand,” he said.

For dried squid, however, supply has been constant as the dried seafood is considered a delicacy and demand is not really high.

Dry seafood trader, Wong Poh Wah, stands in his shop at a market in Kuala Lumpur.
Dry seafood trader, Wong Poh Wah, stands in his shop at a market in Kuala Lumpur.

However, the price of dried squid has doubled in six years according to dry seafood seller Wong Poh Wah, 59.

“It used to be dried squid from Thailand would cost RM38 per kilo but now it's RM80 per kilo. Dried black squid from Malaysia costs the same.

“I usually order 10 boxes of the dried squid from various sources. Each box weighs about 18 kilos. The product moves slowly but the demand is always there,” he said.

Apart from local sources, the product is also imported from Vietnam, Thailand, Argentina and even Korea.

Fishmonger Khairul Osman said deliveries for squid have always been stable but in the last few days he had barely received 10kgs of locally caught squid for his stall.
Fishmonger Khairul Osman said deliveries for squid have always been stable but in the last few days he had barely received 10kgs of locally caught squid for his stall.

“Korean dried squid is the most expensive with some costing up to RM120 per kilo,” said Poh.

When asked whether there is a difference in taste when it comes to the more expensive dried squid, Poh said the dried squid from Korea has a unique taste compared to the others.

Another dry seafood trader Wong Pi Heng, 62, said dried squid's demand is considered low and the product is abundantly available.

“On a good day I can sell a kilo worth of (Thai) dried squid, on a bad day, none at all,” he said.

At the end of the day, what you pay for a squid dish or some delicacy made with dried squid at a restaurant depends on the restaurateur.

It may not be abalone but squid is definitely not the cheap seafood it used to be.

Squid is displayed for sale at a wet market in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2018.
Squid is displayed for sale at a wet market in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2018.