The global demand for shrimp has never been higher. According to the Quebec Daily Examiner, it is currently the most popular seafood in the world with tuna and crab trailing behind in second and third place.
The growth of this sector has been so promising that, earlier this year at the National Fisheries Institute’s Global Seafood Market Conference, a panel of experts has proclaimed 2017 as the “year of happy shrimp.” Third-world countries like Thailand and Ecuador are increasing their production, while China is said to be driving consumption, doubling its 15 percent market share in 2011 to more than 30 percent last year.
Not to be left behind, The Food Navigator names the United States as one of the world’s prime importers of shrimp, taking in more than 600,000 metric tons in 2016. Sources also include India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Mexico, among others.
What makes shrimp popular is its excellent flavor and texture. The Food Network cites health benefits as one of the most important factors why American consumers love eating shrimp: it is a great source of omega-3 fats, vitamins B12 and D, selenium, and tryptophan.
Moreover, shrimp is easy to cook and serve and is available year round in retail food markets. An overview of U.S. seafood supply indicates that over 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported and the number continues to rise.
However, CulinaryLore.com issued a word of caution against buying imported shrimp as most of the seafood being brought to the country is said to be tainted, including those that come from India, a top U.S. shrimp supplier.
Ted McNulty, head of the Aquaculture Division of the Arkansas Agriculture Department also warns: “Some of this seafood is treated with drugs and antibiotics unapproved for use in the U.S., such as malachite green, nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, and gentian violet.”
Nevertheless, while availability may not be an apparent issue, quality obviously is. The U.S. mainly relies on seafood producers in emerging countries where farming techniques may not be able to stave off attacks of inclement weather, outbreaks of illnesses in marine hatches, and infectious diseases resulting from poor hygiene.
Per News21.com, “Filthy seafood infected with bacteria or tainted with drugs and antibiotics banned in the U.S. is finding its way onto the plates of health-conscious Americans.”
In fact, in the last 10 years, the U.S. imported 17.6 million tons of seafood. However, “only about 1 percent is inspected, and only 0.1 percent is tested for banned drug residues,” as researched by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The source further notes: “More than 51 percent of the seafood that was inspected and turned away from ports was filthy, meaning it was spoiled or contained physical abnormalities, or it was contaminated with a foodborne pathogen. About 20 percent of those cases involved salmonella, according to the News21 analysis of FDA import refusal data.”
Consumers simply don’t realize what they may be eating for dinner!
Furthermore, the Far Eastern Agriculture reported that global farming experienced an outbreak of shrimp disease, which contaminated a large part of the supply in Asia. Concerns about quality soon stalled, and practically stopped production.
Vietnam saw yield decline by 50 percent; the slow growth in breeding shrimp along with the poor quality of the fry were cited as reasons. Mexico’s production capacity was also hit by disease, and premature harvesting filled the market with subpar product.
As the global shrimp aquaculture industry ponders the implications of a depleting supply vis-a-vis a growing demand, one company has been steadily making its presence known in the U.S. market.
NaturalShrimp, Inc. (OTCMKTS:SHMP), an agro-tech business is focused on developing a proprietary production system that will allow it to grow, harvest and deliver “fresh” Pacific White Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) weekly to customers all 52 weeks of the year. Fresh shrimp has been and will continue to be one of the most sought-after seafood products in local groceries, farmers’ markets and upscale gourmet restaurants.
Unlike offshore as well as most U.S.-based shrimp farms, NaturalShrimp nurtures its shrimp crop in a safe, closed-loop, fully contained environment that is not vulnerable to viruses, bacteria, agricultural run-offs or the changing weather.
Its fully contained systems will promote high-density production at a low-cost by employing its patent-pending Vibrio Suppression Technology (VST), NaturalShrimp’s answer to the antiquated biofloc technology, which most shrimp farmers currently use.
While biofloc is described as recycling and reusing nutrients in what is touted to be a “zero-waste method,” there is still room for error since infectious agents are hard to control once they enter the aquaculture system. VST, on the other hand, aims to exclude and suppress harmful organisms like bacteria without the use of anti-microbial chemicals, antibiotics, and probiotics.
NaturalShrimp’s Automated Monitoring and Control system utilizes tank monitors that test and verify round-the-clock for correct temperature, salinity, feed amounts, and oxygenation of each independent system. This assures the shrimp can grow and mature from a post-larval stage through adulthood in a disease and chemical-free environment—and be harvested and delivered to consumers in a matter of hours from multiple production centers located near high-demand, less-price sensitive cities.
The issues with supply and quality may be more significant than what is generally assumed, says NaturalShrimp CFO William Delgado. In his interview with Food Navigator, he explains that today’s consumers, diners, chefs, grocery owners, hotel managers, and other stakeholders should scrutinize more closely the authenticity and freshness of the seafood they buy and stock.
If shrimp is U.S. grown or Gulf-harvested, the product has most likely been tested—but it is generally in short supply. If it’s imported, then you are taking your chances and may be putting yourself and your family at risk.
NaturalShrimp is solving a major problem. The current U.S. supply chain is ineffective at delivering a reliable supply of high-grade, chemical and disease-free shrimp to U.S. consumers. The patent-pending VST sustainably enables higher shrimp densities, consistent production, better growth and survival rates, and superior food conversion. These factors allow superior production economics without the use of antibiotics or other potentially harmful chemicals.
The bottom line is: the Vibrio Suppression systems work better and are more commercially scalable than less efficient cultivation technologies such as Biofloc. This disruptive industry technology could become the gold standard for production systems around the world.
Written by Anna Reyes