November 22, 2019

A ShrimpTails Special: World Shrimp 2019

By Sophia Balod

A week before INFOFISH’s World Shrimp 2019, our team was busy packing hundreds of copies of  ShrimpTails magazine in boxes, for delivery to Bangkok, Thailand. As Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (STIP) was one of the sponsors of World Shrimp 2019, it is with several hats that I attended the conference: the STIP representative, introducing our social enterprise that aims to support increased transparency, sustainability and profitability in the shrimp and wider seafood industry; the Deputy-Editor-and-Chief of ShrimpTails magazine, mining the minds in the room in preparation for the December edition; and the avid shrimp enthusiast, at the conference to learn more about current market/production trends, sustainability and the future of the shrimp industry. 

This year’s World Shrimp event was held under the theme “Modelling for Sustainability” — a pressing challenge that every industry in the world currently faces.

Modelling for Sustainability 


Facing the impacts of climate change and the unsustainable use of limited global resources, the shrimp industry, like all others, must challenge themselves to produce more with less. Less input, for less money and having less of a negative impact on people, the planet and profit, now and for future generations. 

While shrimp aquaculture is a relatively new industry, it has grown from 200,000 tonnes in 1984 to over 3.5 million tonnes today. “Aquaculture can be used as an antidote or silver bullet for countries to address our [food security and poverty related] shortfalls,” Hon. Semi Koroilavesau, Minister for Fisheries of the Republic of Fiji, said during the opening address. It is figuring out how to do this, how to sustainably feed our growing global population while protecting the world for future generations, that has brought these industry and thought leaders together.

 

In order to achieve sustainability, shrimp producers must be more in control of the whole production system, from the sourcing of inputs to harvesting and packing, ensuring the efficiency of production. Robins McIntosh, of Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company (CP), says we are now entering Gen 5 (the fifth generation of shrimp farming)  in which systems have been developed to bolster producers’ ability to have more control, with less variance in production outputs. Recycling and waste management, as well as the welfare of people involved in the shrimp industry, are crucial if we want to move to a sustainable future, according to McIntosh. 

Gen 5 farms, McIntosh said, take more complete control of the inputs, environment and waste of the shrimp ponds, increasing both growth and survival rates. As often happens, the shrimp industry looks to the poultry industry as an example of what could be and McIntosh used the poultry industry to show both how far the shrimp industry has come, and how it could improve moving forward. Gen 5 farms promise to produce more shrimp, with less space and allowing for the use of less at-risk, non-coastal land. So long as they receive health post larvae and grow in a highly controlled environment, these farms will also produce more consistent outputs, taking some of the risks out of shrimp farming.  

The industry must also work together to face the challenge of diseases and pathogen risks. Dr Melony Stellars of Genics and Olivier Decamp of INVE both highlighted the importance of a healthy broodstock. “There is a technology gap in pathogen diagnostics. Screening has been costly, and current testing is commonly done sparingly. Affordable pathogen screening and detection are fundamental in developing a successful breeding program,” Stellars said.

Shrimp Production Around the World


For the discussion to move forward, it was critical to get an update on the current trends in and expansion plans of major producing regions. In the first session, representatives from India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the United States, Latin America and the Middle East gave presentations on production in their country or region. This allowed all of the participants to have the same global overview of the current state of shrimp production, and the same expectations of the near future. 

Pacific white shrimp vs back tiger shrimp


Pacific white shrimp production grew rapidly over the past decade, with many farmers replacing black tiger shrimp for a species that proved, at the time, to be easier to farm. Interest in reviving the black tiger shrimp production, however, has been growing, particularly in India and Indonesia. Indonesia’s September 2019 ShrimpTails Sourcing Update brought you reports on companies such as Benur Top Group of Maluku, Indonesia, who have already invested in black tiger post-larvae. This movement was also introduced in several sessions during World Shrimp 2019.

McIntosh, an advocate for the switch back to black tiger shrimp, said that as CP got further in their breeding of specific pathogen-free black tiger broodstock, they saw survival and growth rates that are more comparable to those of Pacific white shrimp. These advances, if they continue, could end up calling into question the dominance of the Pacific white shrimp as the “farmers choice”. 

While McIntosh sees the switch from farming Pacific white shrimp to farming black tiger shrimp as the way forward, Sharma sees the potential of changing the way that Pacific white is farmed to match their black tiger counterparts.

Manoj Sharma, an Indian shrimp farmer in Gujarat, and also the director of Mayank Aquaculture, says, farmers should “farm vannamei the black tiger way”. He developed the concept of satellite shrimp farming, which produces more than 25,000 tonnes of shrimp annually. This means that farming vannamei should focus on one production cycle, low stocking density, with emphasis on producing larger sizes. Since 2010/11, all Mayank Aquaculture farms have successfully farmed “vannamei the tiger way” except for in terms of feeding them! 

Both McIntosh and Sharma, however, believed that a change to the status quo was key to increased profitability. 

The Market Outlook


Markets such as the US and China continue to show promising trends. China imported 354.5 thousand tonnes from January to August 2019, ten times higher than in the same period of 2017 and China’s appetite for and per capita consumption of shrimp will continue to increase, particularly for frozen and processed shrimp, according to Cui He, President of the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA).

In the US, shrimp is still the most consumed seafood, with consumption increasing to 4.4 lbs per capita in 2017. While the US continues to be a significant market, Darry Jory from the Aquaculture Business Development and Support believes that the industry can still maximise its current potential. The shrimp industry must push even harder to appeal to consumers. Effective marketing and information campaigns are needed to encourage consumers around the world to eat more shrimp.

In Asia, the demand is expanding, according to international expert Fatima Ferdouse. In 2018, shrimp imports into the region crossed 1.3 million tonnes, with China being at the helm of the market. Japan’s imports have slowed down considerably (specifically for raw frozen shrimp); however, other markets such as South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong present increasing demand, particularly for semi-processed and processed shrimp in the retail and catering trade. 

Domestic consumption of shrimp in most of the shrimp producing countries in Asia has also been on the rise as the middle class grows and local prices become cheaper. Encouraging local consumption of domestically produced shrimp has also been hailed as a way to increase the profitability of the domestic industry at the same time as feeding the countries economy and improving food security.

 

In Europe, dependence on imported shrimp is consistently high but with a focus on sustainability and certifications, particularly in Northern European countries. These are qualifications that any non-European country wishing to export to Europe pays close attention to, as they determine market access. 

Despite these entry requirements, in the long term, Europe’s imports of shrimp will present more opportunities as the European Union works on trade agreements with non-European countries, that could ultimately increase the trade flow. 

Shrimpin’ for the Future


The last sessions of the Shrimp 2019 were dedicated to updates on currently relevant shrimp diseases as well as technological innovations in the industry. 

Chelsea Andrews, general manager of XpertSea Asia, discussed how artificial intelligence could help farmers, not only in making their production as efficient as possible but also in exploring market trends.

According to Andrews, combining AI and satellite imagery can help farmers and traders to forecast demand on stocking, aeration, algal blooms and harvest readiness. Digitalisation can offer so much potential if implemented across all farms in the world, says Andrews. However, to successfully mount such a “forecasting” feature on a wide scale, this technology must be accessible, convenient and affordable to farmers; wide-scale forecasting needs the maximum coverage of farms providing the AI with information for analysis. 

The event ended with a focus on risk assessment and certification, highlighting the importance of continuing to build better solutions aimed at addressing current challenges in shrimp farming. The conference went full circle, and the topics of sustainability, food safety, and corporate social responsibility were once again put on the table.

Looking Backwards and Forwards 


By the end of the conference, all copies of ShrimpTails magazine, including additional ones I stuffed into my hand luggage, were gone. The program was packed with so much information to digest, and I am sure everyone present will have walked away with things to think about, consider, and hopefully implement, creating positive changes in their respective businesses.

It will be interesting to see what happens if some of the changes discussed come to pass. An easier to grow and less susceptible to disease black tiger shrimp could lead to higher production volumes, lower costs and more direct competition with Pacific white shrimp for value. At the same time, “vannamei the tiger way” could see Pacific white shrimp start competing in the markets that demand larger sizes. For both species, developments in genetics, farm management and disease control will help to drive the production growth targets of the different countries. 

One clear thing, however, is that this is not a simple problem with a simple solution. To increase the sustainability and profitability of the shrimp industry, industry players will have to work together to increase global consumption, at the same time as making more efficient, productive and sustainable farms.

As for myself, I am leaving with a lot of insight into the industry, both from the production/market side and that of sustainability.  I was also able to conduct several interviews ahead of the December edition of ShrimpTails, which will focus on shrimp alternatives and their place in the market. What shrimp alternatives are available, and what are they made of? Are they direct competition to shrimp products, or catering to a completely different market? Dive into these questions and more, with us next month!

World Shrimp 2019 has been an excellent opportunity to connect and reconnect with the world’s shrimp industry players and learn from some of the people on the cutting edge of sustainable shrimp production. I hope to meet you all again at World Shrimp 2021.
 

For copies of the presentation slides, visit this page.

Free