Q:It has been heard that the top 1 shrimp sales of the whole Chinese importing shrimp market is white shrimp from Ecuador. Have you ever summed up the statics? What about the exporting amount and exporting countries of white shrimp for Ecuador in 2015?
A:China represents a very important market for Ecuadorian shrimp. Chinese consumers value the top quality of Ecuadorian shrimp, which is incomparable. We call Ecuadorian shrimp First Class Shrimp because it meets the highest standards of the most demanding customer. In 2015 China represented a market of more than 200 USD million which is the third most important market after the EU and the US. If you make a comparison between grow rates, China will definitively be the most important market for Ecuadorian shrimp.
Q:Could you introduce about the aquaculture industry in Ecuador? What is the position of white shrimp production in whole Ecuador aquaculture industry?
A:The aquaculture industry in Ecuador is mostly represented by shrimp farming. There is a small tilapia industry for export (which has been reduced due to market conditions) and very small farmers who sell their production mainly for local consumption and a small volume of exports. Also there is trout farming for local market (only in highlands).
Q:Could you introduce the Ecuador White Shrimp Association to us? How does it operate? What is the main duty and purpose of it? How does it affect the white shrimp industry?
A:Since 1993 The National Chamber of Aquaculture is the private institution responsible for the representation of the Ecuadorian shrimp industry, second most important product within the non-oil exportable offer of Ecuador.
The NCA is the link between the private sector and the governmental and non-governmental entities to promote a sustainable business model in which aquaculture drives the development and well-being of the Ecuadorian community.
The NCA also brings together the producers, processors, exporters, suppliers and the small local associations and gives them a place in its Board. So, all stakeholders of the industry can be represented before the government officers and local and international opinion.
The National Chamber of Aquaculture works with the government to propose and inforce regulations that help us to maintain the standards (NCA is member of the permanent commission for following the results and improving the NCP). The NCA is the link between the private sector and the governmental and non-governmental entities to promote a sustainable business model in which aquaculture drives the development and well-being of the Ecuadorian community.
Information and training to all stakeholders in the chain is one of the most important aspect to success. The NCA offers courses and conferences across the production zones to update farmers and technicians about new technologies and scientific results.
Producers, processors and exporters in Ecuador are proud of being part of the process to offer ‘The Best Shrimp in the World”. There is a local campaign to promote the importance of the shrimp industry for the country’s economy and the improvement of the living standards of the population. There is also an international promotion campaign of Ecuadorian shrimp in the main seafood shows around the world, using the phrase “Ecuador First Class Shrimp”, related to the high quality of our product.
Q:What are the main reasons for the increasing sales of white shrimp? Comparing to the other shrimp species, what are the strengths of white shrimp?
A:For the producer, once domesticated, it very easy to grow and take care of. For the exporter, the product has a unique quality that provides a very homogeneous taste and look. For the chefs it has a unique taste so it can be used in various combinations and dishes. For traders, our shrimp is worldwide know for its flavor so it is easy to promote in new markets.
Q:What are the white shrimp farming modes like in Ecuador? How do the companies or manufactures proceed and process the cultivation and management of white shrimp farming?
A:It is estimated that Ecuador has about 213,000 hectares of shrimp farms, that represent a little more than 175,000 hectares of water surface. Two-thirds of the shrimp farmers are small (0-50 hectares) and medium (50-250 hectares) producers, mostly located in high land areas not suitable for agriculture. Since 1999, it is forbidden to build new shrimp farms or extend existing concessions on governmental land.
Shrimp is the second non-oil export product for Ecuador, with around 300,000 metric tonnes exported in 2014 representing about USD 2.5 billion. In addition, the shrimp industry is an important provider of employment, especially in very economically depressed rural areas where it may represent the only economic activity. In 2011, it was estimated that the shrimp sector generated 177,276 direct and indirect jobs, representing nearly 5% of the employed population in the country.
Ecuador produces shrimp according to a semi-intensive low-density system in equilibrium with nature. On average, eight to 15 larvae are stocked per square meter by the Ecuadorian shrimp industry and this low-density system helps reduce the spread of diseases and maintain good water quality in the grow-out ponds. Survival rates fluctuate between 60-75% (depending of the final weight harvested) and growth rates are around 1.2-1.6 grams per week.
Feed manufacturers reduced the amount of fishmeal used in the feed, while improving feed digestibility and stability. An indicator of these improvements is the good feed conversion ratio obtained at the end of the grow-out cycle; between 1.4 and 1.6 on average for the country. These developments are accompanied by the widespread use of probiotics during shrimp larviculture, nursery and grow-out phases. It is estimated that more than 80% of shrimp farmers in Ecuador use some kind of bacteria or probiotic during the production cycle, alone or in combination with other additives (organic acids, immuno-stimulants, vitamins and plant extracts), in an attempt to improve shrimp health, the digestion of feed and the conditions of the rearing environment.
A recent aspect contributing to the increased production levels over the past few years is the adoption of a nursery phase between larviculture and grow-out. This new phase is performed in raceways or tanks located at the shrimp farm, where the larvae are kept between eight and 18 days. This allows for better acclimatisation of the larvae to the environmental conditions encountered at the shrimp farm, a more controlled feeding regime during the first critical stages of growth, and natural elimination of less fit animals. When the larvae are transferred to the grow-out ponds, a significant jump in the growth rate is observed, which reduces the culture cycle by about three to five weeks and optimise the use of infrastructure available for production.
The combination of these different factores has allowed a sustainable increase in production levels in Ecuador, maintaining a semi-intensive low-density system in equilibrium with nature. The average yield per year was around 1,600 kilograms of shrimp per hectare in 2014.
Q:For keeping the freshness and safety of the production, what is the process of distribution from fishing to transmitting to consumers?
A:According to the national legislation, the National Fisheries Institute (Instituto Nacional de Pesca, in Spanish) is the Competent Authority (CA) for the quality assurance and health certification of fish and seafood products exported from Ecuador.
Since 2006, the National Fisheries Institute enforced the National Control Plan (NCP), a regulation to assure that all the exports to EU are in compliance with the standards listed in the regulations 2377/90, 852/2004, 853/ 2004, 183/2005, 83/2006 and Directives 2001/82, 2004/28 y 2006/88 and others. The NCP has been homologated to EU requirements and the National Fisheries Institute has been recognized as the Competent Authority in Ecuador for health certification of fish and seafood exports.
In 2012 the INP was recognized by The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ) for issuing health certificates for fishery products exported from Ecuador, thanks to the signing of an agreement between the competent authorities of both countries.
The NCP includes the register and monitoring of establishments, inputs and final product; as well as the Residue Monitoring Plan. Since September 2015, the National Control Plan is mandatory for the entire fish and seafood industry, no matter what the final market is.
Basically, the national control plan focuses its effectiveness on the following pillars:
1. Listed establishments (Internal list)
• Autorized by Administrative Authority (Undersecretary of Aquaculture)
• Verified and approved by sanitary CA
• Under Residue Monitoring Plan (sampling program)
• Hatcheries, farms, feed mills, processors, transporters and suppliers must be enlisted.
• It is not allowed to buy from any unlisted company/supplier.
2. Only authorized products can be added to the shrimp production chain:
• Antibiotics, diets, probiotics, vitamins, supplements, etc.
• Sanitary register issued by CA
• Label requirements: use, dosage, withdrawal time
• Requires CA authorization for any import
• Hatcheries/farms can use only authorized products following instructions about dosage levels and withdrawal time.
3. Regular/random inspections and samplings of CA
• Establishments are visited according to the frequency established in the NCP and/or at any time to take samples and verify if they are following the rules.
• The results of official sampling analysis are part of the Residue Monitoring Plan and are gathered by the CA to prepare the annual report.
• All establishments must keep records about origin and destiny of the product and all inputs used during the cycle.
5. Public information
• Information about authorized establishments and products is available in the website of the CA and it is possible to verify the supplier or the product before any purchase.
A:We will see a one- digit export increase (in terms of volume). Since prices dropped last year we don’t expect to see much of an increase in terms of income for the companies. We still have to compete with low-price shrimp producers even though Ecuador has a high quality product! If prices drop again we will probably lower our densities so we won’t produce as much as last year.
Q:How would you see seafood market in China? What promotion strategies may have planned for Chinese market in 2016? We are aware that Ecuadorian white shrimp is quite hot on the various platform.of e-business.In this case, so far what are the main distribution channels and collaboration companies in China?
A:Our companies travel a lot to China to meet with clients (supermarkets, importers and restaurants). We also participate at the China Fisheries exhibition every November. We are open to organize promotional activities in supermarkets and restaurants to help the Chinese consumer to better understand the difference between the Ecuadorian Shrimp and other products. It is very important for us that the consumer makes the comparison and understands the difference between our high quality and the quality of our competitors. We are the only country providing a First Class Shrimp; no one else does.
Q:It has been heard that the taste of Ecuadorian white shrimp is slightly salty. So for cooking methods and tastes, what suggestion you may give?
A:Always prefer shell on Shrimp. It is the best product because it keeps the real flavor of the shrimp. Put the shrimp less than 3 minutes in hot boiling water to cook and then put it on ice to stop the cooking process. This is the way to preserve the real taste of the Best Shrimp in the world. Try it with no sauce first so you can discover the entire flavor in it. And don’t forget to visit www.bestshrimpintheworld.com
Seafood Guide is the subordinate platform of Fisheries Advance, which is focusing on seafood industrial information all over the world and mainly processing on Wechat platform. Our reports and news are aimed to deliver the hit, professional and latest information from fishing companies, manufacturers, retailers, importers and exporters, e-business, logistics and caterings.