When we say seafood, the first thing that generally comes to our mind is shrimp. They are the most popular seafood consumed all over the world. They contain more flesh, lower calories, and a fresh taste. Shrimps can complement any dish like pasta, sandwiches, sushi, salads and can even be used to make the main courses.
Along with its versatile use, it is also pretty expensive. Its high range has deterred some people from trying it out at times. Shrimp-based dishes are always topping the list of expensive dishes. Even if you buy it raw and plan to cook it in your own style, the quantity is not satisfactory at the quoted price.
Have you ever wondered what makes them so expensive? Is it the production cost or transportation charges? Is it because of its rarity?
Let us have a look at some of the factors that determine the price and quality of shrimps.
Why is shrimp so expensive?
Shrimp is expensive due to a lot of reasons. Shrimps are farmed or caught in the wild. If they are farmed then they are relatively cheaper but if you catch them in the wild, then a seasonal factor comes into play. Due to some disease outbreaks production falls significantly sometimes which raises its overall price.
The early mortality rates, poor farming techniques, disease outbreaks, and transportation makes it even more expensive. Shrimps get rotten very easily so they need to be transported just after harvesting, in cold storage trucks and sell them off quickly. Moreover, your location is also a determinant of its price. The more interior you live in, the more will be the cost of preserving them and transporting them to your location.
Sizes of shrimps are also a factor. Larger shrimps are costlier than the small ones, simply because they are easier to work it. They need to be well maintained by the shrimp farms. Due to their high mortality rate, the larger ones require more care and management which again raises the price.
Harvesting shrimps are costly even more when there are rules and regulations imposed by the food industry. These regulations ensure good quality of food also maintaining the species. Most fishing boats need to pay for expensive licenses in order to catch shrimps. The regulations are also valid in the case of the storing and processing of shrimps.
- Harvesting shrimps is a tedious process and the processing cost is really high
Unlike other meat industry including cattle, sheep, goats, etc, that are grown for the purpose of food, fish or seafood cannot be confined in a place until they are ready to harvest. In the harvesting season, Fishermen go out on boats and wait for several hours to catch shrimps with the use of nets. Sometimes, the shrimps are located at a deeper level than the nets can reach, which makes the process even more difficult. If the fishermen are unable to catch a significant amount of shrimps, they raise their price to suffice the costs and break even. Although it is true that fishes can be raised in a fishery, these are typically released along with trouts, german browns, and salmons.
Shrimps can rot very easily. Their proper maintenance and processing are required to keep them alive and fresh. Shrimps also require special fillet factories where they need to be cut and cleaned to ship them again where sellers will sell them. In the fillet factories, the head, tail, and fins are chopped and also their exoskeletons are removed.
- High shipping charges
The cost of shipping shrimps is really high. As other forms of meat can be reared anywhere they are done locally which reduces any cost of transportation. For example, if you buy steaks from a local shop, their cattle are most likely to be raised in a nearby farm and it may take hardly a few hours to transport it to the sellers. This is not the scenario in the case of shrimps. You need to go through a lot of delivery procedures on the way of transportation. First, the fishermen go out in the wild to catch them. Second, they must come back with a reasonable amount of catch. Third, then they are taken to a processing plant and the cost can rise if the plant is far away from the harbor. Finally, the processed shrimps are packaged and shipped to wholesale providers who in turn distribute them to the retailers.
Also, the increase in the cost of fuel makes transportation more costly and the consumers have to bear the price for that. So now you know about the hidden costs of shrimps and the amount of labor that goes behind it. We are lucky to have seafood available in almost every modern town and city in the world. Even you can order them at any restaurant. So isn’t it worth the price we pay?
- Rules and Regulations of the food industry
There are some rules made by the food industry that ensures our safety. Whether you buy fruits, meat, seafood, or anything else, these laws are always applicable to food items. Even if the rules are for protection, this can raise the price of processing shrimps. Generally, the regulations of the shrimp industry not only affect the final product of shrimp but also affect its manufacturing process. Fishermen require special licenses for catching shrimps which are often quite expensive.
The rules are also applicable to the handling of shrimp and storing them after they are caught. According to the rules, you cannot put them in any box and transport them. There are specific delivery requirements and operations that need to be followed. The rules are imposed for its safe consumption and ensure high quality but it also increases the overall cost.
- Occasional outbreaks of diseases
Poor water management can lead to the spreading of diseases in shrimps. If the water is not clear, the impurities will settle at the bottom and make the water toxic. If the harvesting is done in a pond, it should have a good water operating system that can throw out the toxic water and bring in freshwater.
Sometimes there is a major outbreak of viral diseases caused due to the White Spot Syndrome Virus. This virus is so powerful that it can wipe out the entire population of shrimps within a few days. The virus can infect other shrimps really quickly. This virus doesn’t affect humans but infected shrimps are never sold in the market. As there is no treatment for this disease, the only option is to try and avoid infections. In such cases, the price rises significantly to cover the farmer’s losses.
- Seafood dishes are always more expensive
Shrimp-based dishes, such as garlic prawns or kung pao prawns, shrimp scampi, or even seafood-based dishes, are always more expensive.
The total cost of the dish includes the price of the main ingredients, chefs’ charges, and settings before real profits can be made. As shrimps are already quite expensive, this is reflected in the price of the dishes.
Apart from these key factors, there are other determinants like location, season, early mortality rates, ship maintenance cost, and the time-consuming process that alters the cost as well.