Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Belize Shrimp Growers Association would like to provide you with the following information in order to make some wise purchasing decisions during this temporary period of short shrimp supplies.
Many restaurants and consumers seeking shrimp are having great difficulties finding supplies at this time. The word on the street is that the main reason for the shrimp shortage is because one of our larger shrimp farms is not producing shrimp at this time. This lack of production has lowered some supplies but this is not the only reason. Our shrimp supply situation is more affected by the market into which we are selling our product.
Over the last growing season Mexico has purchased a much larger share of our production than in the previous years. The primary reason for this was that Mexican shrimp farms contracted a shrimp virus outbreak which reduced their production by 50%. This “run” on Belizean shrimp unfortunately has caused a temporary shortage for local consumption. The Belize Shrimp Growers Association is addressing this unfortunate circumstance to make sure a shortage does not happen again.
For bio-security reasons the government of Belize has for years closed our borders to the importation of all shrimp because of the extremely high risk of bringing in bacterial and viral diseases from other countries that Belize is currently free of. When customers call for product and find out it is not available at this time, they may recommend that some be imported. The chance of someone, for quick economic gain for their food service business, sneaking in some product that could infect the whole shrimp farming industry, is very high. It is well documented that shrimp virus live and travel in frozen product. Many people may not even consider that this would be dangerous and could cause the downfall of an industry that employs 100’s of families in this country with investments in the millions of dollar, especially in the southern part of the country where employment is more difficult to find.
Within the next couple of weeks some of the Belizean shrimp farms will have shrimp available for sale. We ask for your patience and to please contact them instead of illegally importing product that would jeopardize an established Belizean industry. A shrimp disease outbreak would be devastating and make Belize dependent on imported product instead of producing our own. The Belize Shrimp Growers Association would like to thank you for your support with this issue.