The union’s case for a higher summer shrimp price was weak, that’s what it comes down to
The FFAW argued the summer shrimp price paid to inshore harvesters should be set at $1.22/lb — which “accurately reflects the current market.”
That's 12¢/lb more than the $1.10/lb laid on the table by the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP).
The union claimed NL shrimp boats had already received offers to fish for between $1.25/lb-$1.35/lb. (Keep in mind NL’s Gulf shrimp fleet had remained tied to the wharf after the spring shrimp price was set at $1/lb.)
The FFAW also said fishermen from Quebec/New Brunswick are being paid higher for their shrimp, and with no deductions for broken/small shrimp, whereby NL harvesters have average deductions around 3% since 2018.
Only the union didn't provide proof.
“The Panel has not seen or been presented with any solid evidence of this,” read the written decision this week that set the summer shrimp price at $1.10/lb. The 2020 summer price of shrimp (after reconsideration) was $1.08/lb.
The FFAW made the case that “greater consideration” should be given to the shrimp market outlook later in the year as the economics of the United Kingdom/European Union — huge markets for Canada’s cold-water shrimp — pick up post-pandemic.
Most harvesters (SEA-NL included) expected the panel to go with $1.22/lb.
Even in late April when the panel set the spring price of shrimp at $1/lb (processors' price) over the FFAW's $1.50/lb, it wrote that the "right price is likely somewhere in between the two offers."
At the time, the FFAW also argued that a 20% tariff could be slapped on cold-water shrimp entering the UK from from Greenland, which would give Canadian shrimp a competitive market advantage, "and a significant edge to Newfoundland processors.'
There was no mention of a Greenland tariff in the panel's report on the summer shrimp price.
INVENTORIES STILL HIGH
The one market update provided to the panel by Gemba Seafood Consulting said the demand for shrimp isn’t high now as many U.K. operators still have inventories left over from 2020.
But the Gemba report also pointed towards an “upward tendency” in the shrimp market that may not become clear until September.
In the end, the price setting panel — which highlighted that a strengthening Canadian dollar is translating into “weakened competitiveness in the shrimp trade” — chose the ASP price of $1.10/lb.
The panel noted the FFAW still has the opportunity for a price appeal or “reconsideration” should the market pick up.
The problem with that is most of the province’s shrimp fleet is done fishing by the end of August, and the markets may not pick up until after that, when the weather turns harsh.
‘REAL AND PERSUASIVE EVIDENCE’
In a press release after the shrimp price was handed down, the FFAW said the panel’s decision “ignores real and persuasive evidence that the cold water shrimp market is improving and that the market in September will be much stronger than the market of today.”
So much for that. The FFAW obviously has to work on its evidence.
Here’s the one point that the FFAW was absolutely right about: “Processors will benefit from the improved market later in the year, but harvesters will not.”