Shrimp imports

An oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, disease in several producing countries and a still-rocky U.S. economy created a roller-coaster year for farmed shrimp supplies and sales.

Rather than one major event impacting business, Ernie Wayland, executive VP at International Marketing Specialists in West Newton, Mass., says the up-and-down year was attributed to a convergence of factors.

“It has been a confusing year in the shrimp business,” he says. The BP oil spill impacted Gulf shrimp production and pushed prices higher. Although the U.S. shrimp catch represents only about 10 percent of the total supply, the spill, combined with supply problems elsewhere in the world, forced farmed prices higher.

“Mexico was a disaster,” says Wayland, referring to white spot disease in the spring. “We had Mexican buyers in Latin America buying,” he says, as well as Asian buyers going to Latin America to supplement their purchasing needs.

In Southeast Asia, Malaysian shrimp farms lost production because of infectious Myo necrosis virus (IMNV), says Wayland. And climate changes from the switch to La Niña from El Niño produced rain well before the usual monsoon season in Thailand, causing severe flooding. Through all these issues, prices rose and fell with the fluctuations in supply and demand. “Buyers began pulling back [as prices rose], and then importers dropped their price,” says Wayland.

Click here to read the rest of the feature on farmed shrimp. Written by SeaFood Business Contributing Editor Joanne Friedrick, the story appeared in the February issue of SeaFood Business magazine. 

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