Harvesting of oysters in Santa Catarina. (Photo: SEAP)
Oyster producers look to foreign markets
Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Concerned about the lack of local market growth, due to the stability of the national consumption of oysters, producers from Santa Catarina are seeking to expand beyond the borders of the country in order to enter other markets.
According to data provided by the Company for Agricultural Research and Rural Extension of Santa Catarina (Epagri), in 2009 there were 143 registered producers of oysters in this Brazilian state, while a year earlier the figure was 148.
Not only has the number of producers reduced but so has production, which declined by 24 per cent, to 1.8 million kg of oysters.
This downward trend reflects the market reality, says the president of the Federation of Aquaculture of Santa Catarina (FEAq), Fábio Brognoli.
The sector began a process of regression after having around 166 registered producers of oysters in 2006.
In 2007, the industry faced the onslaught of the red tide in Santa Catarina, a region which is responsible for 90 per cent of Brazilian oyster production.
This infection caused a 50 per cent drop in levels of production and consumption.
Brognoli explains that oysters produced without adequate standards for consumption account for roughly 30 per cent of the market.
The product comes from the Southeast with prices similar to those of Florianópolis and threatens the image of local producers.
In the capital of Santa Catarina, a dozen oysters are sold at BRL 7 (USD 4.10), while in Rio de Janeiro, the cost amounts to BRL 15 (USD 9) and even reaches BRL 27 (USD 16.10) in northeastern Brazil.
To Brognoli, exports could be a solution for the local industry in the long term.
Meanwhile, Mauro de Almeida, Chief Technical Officer and partner of Fazenda Marinha Atlantico Sul, believes that if Brazilian oysters were to enter international markets, it would generate a "gold rush."
France, which annually consumes around 150,000 tonnes of oysters, is facing a crisis of production, and this could favor producers in Brazil.
According to experts from the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer), a variety of herpes and several bacteria have killed more than 80 per cent of young oysters. This high mortality not only affects the supply of oysters, but also generates rises of between 30 per cent and 40 per cent in prices within the domestic market.
But for Brazil to start exporting oysters to Europe, they need to establish permanent monitoring of water quality.
Therefore, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA) is working on developing National Shellfish Sanitation.
Meanwhile, it is expected that Local Development Plans for Mariculture (PLDM) will help identify and regulate areas with aquaculture enterprises.
By Analia Murias