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Skimpy shrimp supply means higher prices

A recent 15 percent jump in the price of shrimp is affecting every restaurant segment, from seafood-centric QSRs to high-end steak houses. The main reason for the double-digit increase, according to a news report from the Culinary Institute of America’s Menus of Change initiative, was a 30 percent drop in production late in 2013. The cause—early mortality syndrome or EMS—a disease that spread through shrimp farming facilities in several key Asian countries.

The report claims that the spread of disease is a great risk for large-scale aquaculture or agriculture operations that crowd animals together. It goes on to say that overuse of antibiotics has made the drugs less effective, and many of those farming seafood and raising livestock today are voluntarily eliminating antibiotics. Consumer pressure is also curtailing their widespread use.

Shrimp is not the only protein at risk. In the first month of 2014, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea was affecting as much as 10 percent of the pig population on U.S. farms, according to The Wall Street Journal (January 10, 2014). If this ends up putting a big dent in supply, the price of pork can rise in the year ahead, too. And while disease is not blighting cattle herds, beef supply is again forecast to be at record lows and prices will remain high through the first half of 2014.

Not a promising outlook for protein prices.

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