Record Shrimp Prices The Result Of Shortage, Disease

Shrimp prices are at a record high because of disease that is causing a shortage of the crustaceans. The disease is hurting supplies in Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

The three countries are the world’s largest producers of shrimp, which is now approaching a record high market price of $6 per pound.

Shrimp prices are up one-third from the beginning of the year and up by 50 percent over three years ago, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Producers of the tiny crustaceans are blaming Early Mortality Syndrome on the shortage. The disease thrives in warm waters of Southeast Asia and has been worsening over the last few years.

Imports from Thailand to the United States are worth about $1.1 billion per years. But imports from the Asian nation are down by 31 percent for 2013.

While exporters are hopeful that the disease can be treated soon, analysts predict that the crisis may open up opportunities for other shrimp-producing countries to take the market share away.

CNN Money notes that Americans eat an average of four pounds of shrimp per person per year. But because of record shrimp prices and the ongoing shortage, that number is expected to drop in 2013.

Analysts from Rabobank add that a decade of explosive growth has led to “a turning point” in the global farmed shrimp industry. Along with the disease, the Commerce Department ruled on Tuesday that China, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, and Vietnam has been unfairly subsidizing shrimp that they exported to the United States.

The ruling could end with the US enacting duties on shrimp from some of those countries. In turn, that means even higher prices of shrimp for US consumers. But the ruling was welcomed by shrimpers in the Gulf Coast, who were hit very hard by the BP oil spill three years ago.

Since then, they have struggled to compete with cheaper shrimp farmed from Asia. Are you cutting back on your shrimp consumption in light of the record high prices?

[Image via ShutterStock]