Oliver Reeves 18 and Molly Bagnara 18 enjoy some Mooloolaba caught Prawns by the Noosa River for lunch.
Oliver Reeves 18 and Molly Bagnara 18 enjoy some Mooloolaba caught Prawns by the Noosa River for lunch. Lachie Millard

Buying prawns for Christmas? Here's what you need to know

SUNSHINE Coast seafood lovers will still be able to slap a prawn on the barbie right up to Christmas, according to local suppliers.

Despite prawn prices reportedly spiking heading into the festive season, there are plenty of options for customers right up to the 25th.

Caloundra Seafood Markets owner Matt Taylor said a price rise heading into Christmas was the norm.

The 22-year industry veteran encouraged buyers looking to avoid long lines, to buy early.

"While it is pretty tough at the moment it is no different to what we see every year," Mr Taylor explained.

"Because it is the start of the shallow water season, there is a lot of good quality product going off shore. But we still have good numbers.

"We are doing our best to keep our prices the same as last year. But we are unsure on the exact price until we get the unloads."

He said there were other, cheaper alternatives to the King prawn - the one that everyone craves.

"The smaller grades of prawn like the Tiger or Endeavours are less in-demand and will be a little easier on the wallet," he said.

"If you want the freshest prawns, we are available 36 hours over Christmas but customers can also buy early.

"Prawns can be kept in the freezer for three months. In the fridge they last up until four days, so long as they're in a sealed container and covered with ice and salt."

Suncoast Seafoods in Maroochydore say they're lucky to not rely on prawns to turn a profit.

"We are getting Tigers at the moment, not the Kings like usual," owner Stuart Ruddell said.

"Last year the prawns went up over Christmas because it is the best money making period. We don't make much profit on prawns.

"Only a few months ago they were $22 per kilo now they're up over $28 per kilo. That is about average for Christmas."

Queensland Seafood Marketers Association president Marshall Betzel warned prawn supplies were "pretty tight" around the country and prices for large sea-caught tiger and king prawns could surge above $40/kg closer to the festive season.

He said the "double whammy" of booming Chinese demand for Australian wild-caught prawns and ongoing import restrictions was driving up prices. However, other popular crustaceans such as tropical lobster were also in short supply.

"The overall message is don't leave it to the last minute to go shopping for seafood for Christmas," Mr Betzel said.

"The prudent buyer should be looking at buying prawns today. Prawns snap-frozen on the boat come up a treat when thawed out so you could be buying them and putting them in the freezer until Christmas to make sure you don't miss out."