The booths on the show floor have more value added options than ever before. There is a lot of salmon, tilapia, swai and shrimp reformulated in dozens of ways. Anyone who says there is nothing new at the seafood show is not looking.  

Tuesday is my favorite day at the show. The crowds are smaller and it is easier to get to more booths. Better yet, it is the day to spend time and pick the brains of the many talented professionals at the show. 

I will walk the show today looking for new items and new concepts. Here are some snippets of the talk of the show on Monday.

EMS is significantly affecting Thailand shrimp production, more than many are letting on. Farmed shrimp prices up USD 1.00/pound to USD 1.50/pound since November and it could go higher. Wild shrimp prices are following suit. Scientists still don’t know exactly what the disease is. They think it is a bacterial infection, but they know the solutions.   Thailand will be reducing stocking densities, utilizing probiotics, and segregating water systems between ponds to isolate affected ponds. Shrimp prices will be higher for a while. This will spur more shrimp production in other countries as the selling prices are favorable for farmers.   Shrimp prices will remain high for 6 months and potentially up to 18 months — depends on how long it takes Thailand to come back and other countries to ramp up production.

Salmon prices shot up over the last 3 months due to pressure from banks and investors refusing to keep lending money to losing operations in Chile. Producers held back salmon from the market and refused to sell fish below cost any longer. The resulting lower availability is driving up prices and big buyers are being allocated limited salmon supply during their busiest time of year. There are some rumblings that Chile may have a new emerging disease problem. That rumor has also helped push up prices. The salmon market has shot up over a USD 1.00/pound, and some think it will go higher. Some buyers are pushing back and not renewing contracts at these higher price levels. 

Pacific Seafood is jumping into Chile at the right time.  Higher prices mean salmon farms and processors will be making money for a while after an extended buyers market. 

Overall, there is optimism over the economic outlook, and a feeling that we are finally come out of the long recession.  That optimism is tempered by the higher prices on major product categories noted above. Retailers are struggling to find promotional items to rival the shrimp and salmon ads they ran last year. 

I attended the Mini GOAL conference put on by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.  Three big retailers, Wegmans, BJ’s club, and Delhaize were represented on the panel.  The retailers are hungry for, and finding opportunity with responsibly raised seafood. That is the future of the business. The retailers noted strategic alliances and partnerships in their comments. Getting to the farms, seeing the issues, and opportunities are key to making it work, as noted by Carl Salamone of Wegmans. Value added is also a growth area for retail seafood as note by Scott Williams from BJ’s. The retailers indicated they are willing to pay a little more to make sure the product is right every time, and responsibly harvested or farmed. How much more is a matter of negotiation and the type of retailer. 

The Retail 2020 conference echoed that the future of seafood is value added, farm raised, and frozen at sea. Jeff Josselyn, senior director of procurement for Ahold USA led the discussion on the opportunities and solutions. The presentation slides for the retail 2020 conference are available on line for viewing and sharing.  


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