How the Oil Spill Affects Shrimp Prices

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The Associated Press

The BP oil spill has impacted several industries, including shrimp fishermen along the Gulf coast. That may leave you wondering how the nation's shrimp prices will be affected. Here's what you need to know.

Some Background

Shrimp is the nation's No. 1 seafood product and Louisiana is tops in U.S. shrimp production. But most the shrimp consumed in the U.S. comes from overseas, with only about 7% coming from the Gulf, according to the National Fisheries Institute.

The Louisiana Impact

Louisiana's biggest seafood item — shrimp — is down to just 30% of normal production, according to the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. That's driving up prices of shrimp from the region.

A 21-25 count of brown shrimp from Gulf of Mexico cost $6.50 this week, a 44% jump from $4.50 the week of the oil spill, according to Urner Barry, which provides market quotes to the wholesale food industry.

The Big Picture

Shrimp prices were rising before the oil spill, in part because of production problems in Asia. The U.S. government also barred wild-caught shrimp from Mexico because crews were allegedly failing to take measures to prevent sea turtles from getting caught in nets. Coincidentally, the ban went into effect the same day as the rig explosion that triggered the spill.

The Bottom Line

Wal-Mart and Kroger, two of the nation's largest grocers, say they buy shrimp from so many different sources that they have not had to raise prices. Some other retailers say they locked in prices with suppliers earlier.

People in the seafood business say there are too many variables to predict supply and pricing trends for the rest of the year. But many expect already inflated prices to stick around for a while.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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