How data can shine a light on shrimp trends

How can analysis help?

“We don’t claim the models will tell you precisely what you should do or what’s going to happen, but they help people to make better decisions, based more on data and less on sentiment – in shrimp too many decisions are still based on gut feelings, while there’s a huge pile of data that’s not yet been looked at, especially by the smaller companies and we can support their decision making in their day-to-day operations,” Visch argues.

According to Visch, Kontali’s work in the salmon sector helps to illustrate what can be achieved, helping operators to understand the impacts of factors like stocking levels, feed sales, and productivity estimates.

“In the shrimp industry no one is collecting or analysing these kinds of data on a global scale. It’s about changing the mindset of the shrimp industry, making it more like salmon, which is data-driven and professional and has shown how much there is to gain from using data,” Visch explains.

“We’d like to reach a more predictable market and supply – so that farmers can make investments, feed companies can make investments, and the sector is also able to attract [external] investors in the production level. It’s where investors are a bit wary, because they don’t have the data and don’t know what’s going to happen in the next years,” he adds.

In terms of the range of the models being developed, Visch notes that – given shrimp’s short production cycle – it’s more important to understand fairly short-term trends, than longer-term ones.

“We have models up to 2030 for production and markets, but we’re mainly trying to focus on 3-6 months ahead, as that’s the period where the decision making process is most important, whether you’re a farmer or an exporter,” he says.

Looking ahead

Now that Kontali has models established for vannamei, Visch says they are looking to build similar ones for other species, including monodon and wild-caught Argentine red shrimp, due to the degree of competition between the various shrimp sectors.

They are also looking more closely at the markets in specific countries, rather than whole regions, as well as feed price indexes and forecasts.

Given the nature of the shrimp sector, Visch knows that he’s facing a challenging task, but even incremental gains will be welcomed by an industry that needs all the help it can get.

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