Each year, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Science and Technology, Fisheries Statistics Division (“NOAA”), conducts a survey regarding shrimp processing in the United States. These data provide a comprehensive overview of the status of the American industry, offering invaluable insight into the composition and health of the shrimp processing sector.
NOAA recently released the results of its survey of shrimp processing in 2012. These data confirm a further steady erosion of the shrimp processing sector that began in 2010 after the industry had briefly rebounded in 2009. In total, less than 273 million pounds of shrimp, worth $809 million was reported to have been processed in the United States in 2012. These totals are the lowest amounts reported for the U.S. shrimp processing sector in the data going back to 2003 made available to the Southern Shrimp Alliance.
The explanation for the record low numbers is surprising. Rather than reflecting losses in the shrimp industry in the southern United States, the decline in nationwide shrimp processing has corresponded with a collapse in shrimp processing in California. In 2007, 80 million pounds of shrimp was reported to have been processed in California. In 2012, that volume had plummeted to 25 million pounds.
In contrast, certain parts of the shrimp processing industry in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic have strengthened as the California industry has deteriorated. The total harvest of domestic shrimp in the Gulf was slightly higher in 2012 than it was in 2011. At the same time, while the volume of shrimp processed nationally fell by seven percent (7%) between 2011 and 2012, the volume of shrimp processed in the state of Texas increased by almost twenty percent (20%). The value of shrimp processed nationally was reported to have fallen by six percent (6%) between 2011 and 2012; in Texas, the value of shrimp processed increased by over twenty-one percent (21%). NOAA reports that nearly 85 million pounds of shrimp were processed in Texas in 2012, the highest total reported for the state in data going back to 2003.
According to NOAA, in 2012 over thirty-one percent (31%) of the shrimp processed in the United States was processed by fifteen (15) different companies in the state of Texas. This is roughly equivalent to the total volume of shrimp processed by thirty-five (35) different companies in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, which collectively accounted for thirty-three percent (33%) of the shrimp processed in 2012. Eleven (11) different processors in Florida accounted for thirteen percent (13%) of the shrimp processed that year. All told, shrimp processors in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia accounted for seventy-eight percent (78%) of the shrimp processed in 2012. In other words, NOAA’s reporting indicates that four out of every five pounds of shrimp processed in the United States in 2012 was processed in the Gulf of Mexico or South Atlantic.
Within the southern states, the bulk of domestic shrimp processing takes place not in the northern Gulf, but in Texas and Florida, accounting for forty-four percent (44%) of the volume of shrimp processed nationally in 2012. This figure represents a significant increase in the total share of domestic processing in those two states, as they had accounted for only thirty-nine percent (39%) of U.S. shrimp processing production in 2011. Shrimp processors in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama also saw their share of total U.S. shrimp processing production increase in 2012, from thirty-two percent (32%) in 2011 to thirty-three percent (33%) in 2012.
NOAA’s reporting indicates that the shrimp processing sector has become increasingly concentrated in the state of Texas. These figures confirm anecdotal evidence of renewed investment in the shrimp processing sector in Texas as processing activities related to domestic, wild-caught shrimp shift from other states and demand for wild-caught shrimp grows.
Review summary charts and graphs of shrimp processing based on data compiled by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Science and Technology, Fisheries Statistics Division: