The Flow of South Carolina Harvested Seafood Products and Related Substitutes through SC Market Channels – Year I
In cooperation with key members of the South Carolina (SC) seafood industry, the goals of this research are to characterize and quantify the aggregate (total) annual flow of major SC marine harvested seafood products within SC market channels. The objectives to achieve these goals are the following:
- Define and describe major SC market channel members and their role in the flow of major marine SC seafood products (e.g. blue crabs, oysters, shrimp, etc.) and applicable substitutes (i.e. domestic and/or foreign derived products) imported into the state.
- Estimate the annual and seasonal flows (i.e. physical quantities and the appropriate market level value) of South Carolina’s major harvested seafood products and related substitutes at major levels of the SC seafood market channels.
- Solicit opinions from key SC market channel members regarding their perceptions of the impacts of state and federal fishery regulations on product flow, other channel functions and the competitiveness of SC channel members (e.g., harvesters, seafood retailers).
It is apparent that the South Carolina (SC) seafood market place has changed markedly over the last 30 years. Technological changes (e.g. expansion of modern mariculture technology in China and Vietnam, use of brine freezers on SC trawlers, etc.), shifts in consumer demand (e.g. increased seafood consumption away from home), and retail consolidation have reshaped the traditional market relationships between producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and foodservice outlets. Moreover, regulatory agencies (e.g. the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the SC Department of Natural Resources, etc.) involved in state and regional fisheries management remain concerned with the potentially negative impacts of fishery regulations, not only on commercial fishing operations, but also potentially negative secondary regulatory impacts on other market channel members (e.g. domestic processors, small seafood distributions, etc.).
Unfortunately, the last comprehensive product research on SC market channels was conducted in 1972 (Laurent et al. 1974). Consequently, over time, fishery management policy makers, SC non-government organizations (NGOs) such as the SC Seafood Alliance, and others have become more dependent upon fragmented and sometimes questionable anecdotal evidence when attempting to understand and anticipate the secondary impacts of regulations and other policies (e.g. generic seafood promotion programs) on SC seafood market channel firms and related businesses. This research will provide a timely and comprehensive update or "snap shot" of SC harvester seafood product flows within SC borders along with a coherent understanding of how market channel members perceive the impact of state and/or regional level fishery management regulations on the market channel’s functionality. In addition, research results may identify possible erroneous assumptions and/or dated generalizations that could be significantly hindering insight to determining potential impacts of fishery management regulations, if any, on SC market channel members and/or perhaps the efficacy of government or NGO programs intended to stimulate market development to benefit the SC seafood harvesting sector.
Using the results of an SC seafood industry focus group and other sources (e.g. research literature, informants, etc.), qualitatively delineate and categorize the role of SC major market channel members (e.g. brokers, primary wholesalers, distributors, seafood buyers for SC restaurants, etc.). Identify cost-effective survey approaches for collecting product flow data and other information from a sample of each SC market channel member group. Data sources for identifying the population of market channel groups to be surveyed will include South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) license records, telephone directories, and Internet based seafood supplier lists. SCDNR records regarding reported monthly and annual seafood landings will also be reviewed.
Primary data to be collected from SC market channel members will include annual quantities of SC harvested seafood product and related substitutes purchased, inventoried, and/or sold by sources and product form (e.g. heads-on shrimp, imported oysters, etc.) and applicable market level prices. Interviewees’ responses to structured questions regarding the possible impacts of fishery regulations on their marketing activities and clients will also be recorded. Appropriate SCDNR personnel will be consulted during the design, implementation, and analysis phases of the various surveys. In addition to estimating aggregate product flow at major market channel levels within SC, annual consumption for each of the major SC harvested seafood product forms at final consumer outlets within SC borders will be included in the analysis.