Ecuador’s Camposano shares the strengths, and weaknesses, of the country’s booming shrimp industry

A person holding a handful of shrimp in Ecuador.

Ecuador’s shrimp industry has sustained solid growth over the past years, solidifying its position as the number one supplier to China, providing roughly 70 percent of the Asian giant’s imports. It has also  lead as the number one supplier to Europe and, in the United States, is biting at the heels of the shrimp powerhouse of India.

That growth has been buoyed by a national strategy to fortify local operations while diversifying the offers and  channels through which Ecuador sells its shrimp. Like any strategy, Ecuador uses a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis as its base upon which to grow.

José Antonio Camposano, executive president of Ecuador’s National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA) since 2011, has played an integral part in defining and implementing the country’s growth strategy. His participation in the sector’s sustained success led industry observers to recently name him one of the 50 most influential executives in the aquaculture world.

SeafoodSource spoke with Camposano regarding his SWOT analysis for Ecuador’s shrimp farming industry.

SeafoodSource: Starting with the most difficult, what would you say are some of Ecuador’s weaknesses when it comes to shrimp farming?

Camposano: Communication is always important, it is a weakness that the entire aquaculture industry has around the world. As shrimp farmers in Ecuador, we aren’t exempt from that weakness. And we are still very susceptible to news that can position a message that is simply not true.

To give a very clear example, at the beginning of the year there was negative news from the Southern Shrimp Alliance that antibiotics had been found in shrimp from India and Ecuador. That was the headline here, but if you look at 100 percent of the cases in the last decade, let’s say there have been 400 cases, 399 are from India and other Asian countries, and Ecuador is 1. So it's not shrimp from India and Ecuador. I don’t want to speak poorly of my competition; I esteem them very much because it forces us to improve every day.

We were in a meeting with the Ecuadorian authorities when that news came out. They got to work immediately and had to implement crisis management, and the law imparts sanctions if it corresponds to a particular shrimp farm.

The headline is what stays in the people’s mind, but Ecuador has really activated all the mechanisms, our same industry has asked for sanctions if called for, because we have to take great care of what is crucial for us, which is the food safety of our consumers. That's why we boast of having a clean record of antibiotics in the countries where we export. But if we had better communications as an industry, we could be more efficient. At least I read all of the news until the end, I do not stay with just the headline and with that I could determine [in this case] that it came with some malice, with the intention of...

Photo courtesy of Ecuador's National Chamber of Aquaculture

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