Having worked through this investigation for several months now, I have had much time to watch trends in the market place as they have changed on a weekly basis. In my past experience I have always seen the markets fluctuate up or down depending on the seasons and crop demands. During the period of this study, from February 2011 through March 2012, an interesting trend has been apparent.
Although some food prices, mostly processed and manufactured items, have been lowering, many are rising at a steady pace. During the winter months food items like fresh produce always increase in price as local supplies leave the market place. However, in mid 2011 and into January 2012, researchers for this report noticed that prices in super markets for such items as lettuce, tomatoes and peppers had risen higher than would be normally expected for the season. Much of this was due to increase in the cost of transportation to get the products from one area of the country to another. Another major factor was severe droughts in vegetable growing areas of the US.
Another observation was, last spring and this summer, the local farmer’s market vendors were getting higher prices for fresh produce than the super markets were charging in the dead of winter. This can only be attributed to the fact that consumers are continuing the trend to “Buy Local” when ever possible.
Meat and poultry continue to edge up slowly as processors, middlemen vendors try to keep up with rising cost of operations in spite of a slow over all economy in many places. With the exception of shrimp, which is a heavy restaurant favorite, summer months are the slowest of times for seafood sales. It is generally expected that from June of each year until September, when schools are closed, seafood prices drop about 10% because people change their life styles with more out door activities. Last year, 2011, seafood prices held steady and for some species, including tilapia, the price actually rose by a couple of cents per pound as the demand increased. As witnessed in several parts of this report, tilapia is increasing in consumption by 10% annually in the US. This increase is level throughout the year with seasons having no change on the increase rate.
Recently in a TV report on the cost of food stuff in the market place the reporter made a bold statement. It was, A In America today, the local farmer has never been more prosperous.@ An August 21, 2009 Time Magazine article entitled, “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food”(Appendix page 96) tells of the national trend to get away from the big corporate farming practices that took over the food supply of the US after World War II. While not aimed directly to fish farming per se, it definitely shows the trend will follows the aquaculture industry as well as the aquaponic production of fresh vegetable crops.
This is because, in the past, local farmers had to try to compete with large agribusiness operations all across the country and in some growing areas there was cheaper labor and land so some locals could not compete. Today this advantage is over. A new trend in production is beginning take place. Farmers are now finding it is to their advantage to set up operations closer to the populated market centers and the to time, we are seeing potential world wide food supply catastrophe. On page 90 is an article from the July 18, 2011 issue of Time Magazine that shows the state of the world supply of seafood. Also on page 107 is the article entitled ‘A long way from farm to fork” If nothing else, these articles demonstrates the future need and potential for local fish farming and the production of quality vegetables.
In this report I show a lot of information about shrimp farming. This is because of the fact that that over 90% of the shrimp consumed in the US is imported. There great potential for US growers to capture a part of this vast market. However, at this time there are very few farmers in the US doing this. The information found in this savings of thousands of dollars in shipping cost can now go into their pockets instead of transportation companies. This savings translate into increase profit potential for the local farmers.
I mention farmers, which traditionally mean those producing vegetables and meat products, but today agriculture also means the production of seafood products from aquaculture. Since 90% of all of the seafood consumed in the US is imported from overseas and the cost of fuel for shipping, not to mention the “Carbon Footprint” is a world wide concern, a local fish farmer providing high quality, fresh, never frozen fish or shrimp products has a huge advantage. He now not only has a superior locally grown product, his product is very competitive and sought out in the market place. While the cost of goods can fluctuate from time report will allow Mr. Fyfe to make an educated decision as to whether to pursue this sometime in the future.
In addition to the economic advantages, modern aquaculture products can be marketed as being organic or “Naturally Grown”, if registered that way and they also can carry the much coveted A Green Label@ that so many people are now concerned about. Modern aquaculture systems are eco friendly with no impact on the environment and with the transportation to the market just short distances the product has a very low carbon foot print.
The facility proposed by Mr. Fyfe will be producing high quality seafood products and the waste will be processed and used to grow, “Naturally Grown” quality fresh vegetables.
This one facility will be able to provide almost all of the ingredients required for a full course meal, at an affordable price to the consumers
and meet the concerns of the public to know the local origin of the products as well as the feel good effect of knowing it was grown under environmentally safe conditions. This is a win win situation for everyone.
As can be seen in the cost analysis of the system and the operating cost, the system proposed for the Orange County facility is very viable. As demonstrated in this report, the market area is huge and easily accessible.
Through the implementation of this modern state of the art technology for both fish farming and the production vegetable crops, the facility will get a lot of support from both the Florida Department of Agriculture as well as local research universities who are studying new “Greener” technologies for food production.
Given the vast potential markets along with the training that will be provided by the system design consultant as well as additional consulting and help from feed supply representatives and fingerling suppliers will almost guarantee success.
Based on the all of the necessary elements needed for this business, the economic data and the abilities of the principals who will operate the business as well as increasing demands for the products, my conclusion is, this project is a good one for both investors and the region as well.
Douglas C. Burdette, Jr. Aquaculture Engineering
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