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Shrimp: enjoy and damn the expense?


Gifted Gourmet
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The article on shrimp SF Gate

Shrimp, the most popular seafood in America, may become more expensive soon as a result of new tariffs that the U.S. government is considering on imports from some countries in a move to bolster domestic shrimp production and prevent dumping, or sales at artificially low prices.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department announced preliminary tariffs on shrimp imported from China and Vietnam. Tariffs on sales from Thailand, Brazil, Ecuador and India may be imposed by the end of the month.

Those six countries account for the lion's share of imported shrimp. Of the 1 billion pounds of shrimp consumed annually in the United States, about 87 percent is imported, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Are you a shrimp lover? Is this news expected, unexpected, even alarming? :shock:

Lee Nakamura, a partner at Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley, which sells about 100 pounds of shrimp each week, said the shellfish will remain popular no matter what."  Shrimp is very important in all different styles of cooking," he said. "What we've noticed before when shrimp goes through seasons of being more expensive is that people tend to drop the size. They still buy it but get one size smaller."

Will you simply eat fewer shrimp or "go smaller" and maintain your loyalty to the tiny succulent crustaceans?? :biggrin:

Or will you switch to lobster and/or scallops or crab??

As Yul Brynner said in The King and I, "tis a puzzlement." :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Ick. I hope this doesn't go through. I understand that our local shrimp industry does not do too well competing with the foreign markets that manage to do it cheaper, but I can't stand behind anything that ends up raising prices for the end consumer. If our government tries to bail out the local shrimpers by bleeding the pocketbooks of the general public, I will simply not eat shrimp.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Ick. I hope this doesn't go through. I understand that our local shrimp industry does not do too well competing with the foreign markets that manage to do it cheaper, but I can't stand behind anything that ends up raising prices for the end consumer. If our government tries to bail out the local shrimpers by bleeding the pocketbooks of the general public, I will simply not eat shrimp.

I'm with you in spirit, but the situation is kind of complicated. First, the specific charge of "dumping" carries the implication that the product is being sold here at a price that doesn't reflect the true cost of production. In other words, foreign governments or companies are encouraging the sale of cheap shrimp in order to mitigate the effects of overproduction or in order to capture market share. Is it fair that Americn shrimp farmers should have to compete not with the actual cost of production, but rather with a corporate or governmental subsidy, the intent of which is to put them out of business?

Second, if we were decline to apply tariffs to allegedly unfair shrimp imports, wouldn't it be only fair to remove US government subsidies for staples like corn, wheat, sugar and milk?

As for this "go smaller" thing, it doesn't make sense to me. In the sizes I normally use (21-25, 26-35, 36-40), there's usually very little difference in the price per pound. What I see is a differential between species: tigers are almost always the cheapest, with whites, browns and pinks trading spaces for the expensive slots depending on the time of year. And the bigger shrimp (16-20, 10-15 and U-10) always carry a premium. I only buy those for special occasions, and I'm unlikely to change that habit. It's not like lobster tails are any cheaper.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Dave - I make no claims to have a degree in economics, so I don't want to get too deep into all off the ramifications of subsidy and tariff. From my basic understanding and what I have read, and personl feelings on the matter, I lean much more towards a total free market economy without government intervention at all: no subsidy, no tariff, nothing. But that is another thread most likely.

In all honesty, I don't cook shrimp very often anyway, as they are a PITA. I dislike foods I have to manhandle too much to eat, and all that peeling/deveining ruins the experience of cooking them. If I want them, I will order them out and let someone else do the dirty work ;).

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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NM, I wasn't trying to start an argument. I agree with free market principles; I was only trying to show that they don't work very well in practice unless everyone plays by the same rules. And yes, it's another thread.

You feel the same way about shrimp as I do about crab. Just give me the good stuff without all the mess.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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If our domestic producers cannot compete without artificial price controls and protectionist government policies, maybe they shouldn't survive. I believe in comparative advantage... Maybe shrimp boatin' isn't for them anymore and they should find a means of supporting themselves that does not create a drag on the economy. Stop the whining and become productive contributors to the economy.

If their product is superior to the imported shrimp, many would happily pay a premium so they should find this niche and cater to it. Maybe this is a small niche and we can no longer support as large a shrimp industry in this country. I don't see that as a loss.

We have way too many industries in this country that have been coddled for too long by subsidies, tariffs, and other shenanigans.

What ever happened to capitalism?

Laissez faire

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I am of two minds about this, and maybe three or four after reading Carp's post. And Malawry, I didn't read the Washington Post article... I'm not a member and I didn't feel like signing up. Please let us know if they published an interesting slant.

Personally speaking, (1) I would be glad to see the prices of the imported become higher because I don't think they are good in the first place. It doesn't surprise me at all that farm raised imported shirmp are grown with stuff that is not approved for human consumption. Maybe it will get our markets here in FL back to stocking mostly local shrimp. And, (2) I think it would suck if people who don't have access to good local shrimp would have to pay the rising prices.

I love shrimp (and crabs) and use them a lot in my cooking, and it's well worth the "work" to me... Actually I don't consider it work. What I can't imagine being worth the work is those little tiny corn kernel size clams that is the topic of another thread. That was amazing to me.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I always thought that the definition of dumping was, 'selling an imported product at below the production cost,' the idea being to drive the domestic producers out of business.

But now, it seems that dumping means selling at a price lower than domestic producers. That definition is just naked protectionism, and would be shot down in a microsecond by the WTO if the shrimp importers can afford to bring a case. (A similar example is the steel tariffs that were imposed (for awhile) by US protectionists.)

I eat a lot of shrimp, and if it gets too expensive, I just won't buy it; the theory that I'd downsize to smaller shrimp is just rubbish. Once you get above ~30 per pound, it's more work than it's worth anyway (IMHO).

There isn't really any domestic shrimp available here in the Pacific Northwest anyway; it's all imported. (Well, there are local Pacific tasteless tiny salad shrimp, but I haven't bought any of those in several years). Maybe Gulf shrimp are available (sometimes), but if so, they were too expensive for me to notice.

Yes, it would be nice for domestic shrimp harvesters to be able to make a decent wage, and I have some concerns about unsustainable and damaging practices of some Asian shrimp farming operations, but protectionism is just wrong on many levels.

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I stopped buying tiger shrimp about ten years ago when local fresh became readily available here in central east coast Florida. The funny thing is that until the cheaper imports began to reach the market here, even at the fish monger all you could buy were the defrosted from the five lb. brick variety. Now you can buy ~30 to the lb. fresh white at Publix for $6.99/lb. Sometimes they have fresh ruby-reds.

My guess is that Publix has actively sought out local suppliers and eliminated layers of middleman mark-up. They seem to do this for local produce also.

Maybe WinnDixie can get some legislation passed to save their sorry-ass stores from them. :rolleyes:

PJ

PS Hi Susan.

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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I agree that this is protectionism. Why Republicans get all the credit for being all about free trade, when they do such blatantly protectionist actions like the shrimp tariffs on Vietnam (93%) and China (113%) , I'll never know.

msnbc piece

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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  • 4 weeks later...

latest news on shrimp tariffs

Several restaurant chains said they do not expect prices on shrimp entrees and cocktails to go up for at least a few more months thanks to agreements with suppliers to keep the flow coming at current prices.  "We're anticipating in the absolute maximum come November a 10 percent increase," said Roger Berkowitz, president and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, a restaurant chain that spans the Atlantic coast. And price increases would only come if they were unavoidable, he said. "I'm going try to hold the line on it."

:biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I just wrote a grad school term paper on this (for a Public Policy Process class). I think the professor was happy to not have to read another paper on gay marraige, the FCC, or cap. punishment (the more popular subjects). heh :)

-Jason

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Perhaps slightly off topic but certainly relevant is the farming practices on Tiger shrimp. At a recent John Ash class (on shrimp) he talked about how he saw them raised in thailand. Basically they dig a pond, seed it, and use it until it will no longer sustain life. Then abandon it, go down the road, and dig a new pond. As he said 'I'd hate to get noe of the shrimp from the last crop'. He made a good point I think about not buying them unless the seller knows that the shirmp are being farmed in an ethically and ecologogically responsible manner. Stick to Gulf Whites and other domestics avoids that question.

I'm not a Sierra clubber and am certainly not a radical about the ecological side of things but this one hit me hard and as such I will avoid these shrimp unless the fish monger has a satisfactory answer as to the supplier and how they're raised.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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I think the professor was happy to not have to read another paper on gay marraige, the FCC,  or cap. punishment (the more popular subjects).  heh :)
I imagine that's true!

Good job. What's your major?

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I think the professor was happy to not have to read another paper on gay marraige, the FCC,  or cap. punishment (the more popular subjects).  heh :)
I imagine that's true!

Good job. What's your major?

Thanks. :)

I'm an MPA (Masters in Public Administration) major. That was actually my first grad school class (and paper). Figured' I'd get a head start during the summer and take one class. :)

-Jason

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Thank you for the marvelously interesting links, foodgeek! It is, as you correctly note, vital to hear both sides of the issue, especially about one of my favorites, shrimp! :biggrin:

Glad you liked the links.

I basically wrote the paper from the perspective of the Shrimp Alliance, but figured I'd better know both sides of the issue.

-Jason

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I always thought that the definition of dumping was, 'selling an imported product at below the production cost,' the idea being to drive the domestic producers out of business.

But now, it seems that dumping means selling at a price lower than domestic producers. That definition is just naked protectionism, and would be shot down in a microsecond by the WTO if the shrimp importers can afford to bring a case. (A similar example is the steel tariffs that were imposed (for awhile) by US protectionists.)

I eat a lot of shrimp, and if it gets too expensive, I just won't buy it; the theory that I'd downsize to smaller shrimp is just rubbish. Once you get above ~30 per pound, it's more work than it's worth anyway (IMHO).

There isn't really any domestic shrimp available here in the Pacific Northwest anyway; it's all imported. (Well, there are local Pacific tasteless tiny salad shrimp, but I haven't bought any of those in several years). Maybe Gulf shrimp are available (sometimes), but if so, they were too expensive for me to notice.

Yes, it would be nice for domestic shrimp harvesters to be able to make a decent wage, and I have some concerns about unsustainable and damaging practices of some Asian shrimp farming operations, but protectionism is just wrong on many levels.

They (Commerce dept.) consider dumping one of two things:

Selling it below what production costs. Or selling it more cheaply here than they do in the home country.

The problem with the first defination is how production costs are calculated.:

In some of these countries (China, Vietnam), the gov't foots a lot of the costs such as electricity. they are non market economies. It means their expenses are different than ours (and may not be taken into account.)

a lot of these countries farm shrimp, as opposed to (over) fishing from the sea, like we do.

a lot of this imported shrimp is processed (canned, frozen, flavored, etc...) but the commerce dept does not take that into account. they use a formula to convert what the shrimp would have cost to produce if it had not been processed. but it had already been processed, so it is undervalued.

for a laugh:

http://www.citac.info/shrimp/about/doc_frankenshrimp.htm

(yes, propaganda, i know, but still.)

-Jason

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There isn't really any domestic shrimp available here in the Pacific Northwest anyway; it's all imported. (Well, there are local Pacific tasteless tiny salad shrimp, but I haven't bought any of those in several years). Maybe Gulf shrimp are available (sometimes), but if so, they were too expensive for me to notice.

Sure there are. I actually own a shrimp pot that I use when I'm in Sitka, Alaska (a wee bit farther north, but still the same oceanic life can be found). There are literally tons of Spot Shrimp and I have seen them for sale all over Seattle too.

Gosh are they wonderful. :wub: They have changed my perception of good shrimp and I no longer like any warm water species.

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