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Editor's Note - Shrimp buyers on edge

Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher / Editor
By Fiona Robinson
June 01, 2013

Only a few farmed seafood species have the power to make buyers worldwide stand up and take notice when problems arise, and one of them is shrimp. Vannamei, the ubiquitous affordable white shrimp, has had a big problem with early mortality syndrome over the past few years. Asian shrimp farm production is being dramatically impacted, as Contributing Editor Steve Coomes writes about in this issue’s Top Story, Diagnosed.

Buyers in the first half of this year have described the purchasing scenario as a “white knuckle year.” While Donald Lightner and his team of researchers at the University of Arizona have pinpointed the culprit, a Vibrio bacteria infected with a virus, now the work is geared toward determining how to stop the spread and eventually prevent the disease. Whether that is possible and how long it could take (it took a few years to determine the culprit) is anyone’s guess. 

What do all the supply problems mean for buyers? For big chains it means less reliance on big-volume contracts and more spot purchases. This could translate into fewer shrimp promotions in supermarket and restaurant chains and less shrimp sold on ad. 

Of course there’s also the countervailing duty case in the United States that’s keeping shrimp buyers on their toes. 

So if you know someone who deals in a lot of shrimp and he or she is a little edgy, don’t start talking about work. It may be safer to stick with topics like the weather and the latest funny video making the rounds on Facebook.



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