Skimping on shrimp

grilled shrimp

Shrimp prices have soared worldwide due to a shortage caused by a disease that's wreaking havoc on the crustacean's population. Bloomberg reports that shrimp prices increased 61 percent in March over last year, mostly due to a bacterial disease known as early mortality syndrome (EMS). The surge in prices was made especially difficult because it came during the Lenten season, when many people turned to shrimp over chicken, beef and pork. At chains like Noodles & Co., the shortage has led to a 29 percent increase in the cost to add shrimp to pastas this year. However, Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. is bucking the trend. While the fast-food chain is experiencing a 40 percent increase in shrimp costs, it isn't raising prices, thanks to offsetting lower costs for chicken.

Early mortality syndrome does not affect humans, but it is nearly wiping out young shrimp farmed in Southeast Asia. Since EMS was first reported in China in 2009, it has spread to Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand (the number one supplier of farmed shrimp). The disease has now reached Latin America, causing similar devastation.

While there is currently no cure for EMS, researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a new diagnostic test, which they hope will help mitigate the spread of disease by providing quicker and cheaper diagnoses. Until farmers are able to get this disease in check, expect to see continued higher prices at the market.

How has the shrimp shortage affected your cooking?

Photo of Tom Yum Grilled Shrimp from Closet Cooking, indexed on EYB

4 Comments

  • slimmer  on  4/22/2014 at 8:35 AM

    Good to know about this problem. Asian farmed shrimp had been offered at temptingly low prices, but I've been trying to stick with American shrimp even if they do cost more because of the quality. The price differential probably won't be so large now with an Asian shrimp shortage.

  • boardingace  on  4/22/2014 at 3:36 PM

    I didn't notice, but I'll pay attention at the store now :)

  • boardingace  on  4/22/2014 at 3:36 PM

    I didn't notice, but I'll pay attention at the store now :)

  • FuzzyChef  on  4/26/2014 at 2:45 PM

    Lovely ... one of the few bits of seafood we can eat without worry of overfishing, and now a shortage. :-( Why doesn't the US farm more shrimp?

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