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The Association of Seafood Processors is proposing a price of 70 cents per pound while the FFAW wants $1.18
There’s 48 cents worth of disagreement over shrimp prices between the union that represents fish harvesters and the organization that represents processors in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In a Facebook post last week, The Fish Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) said negotiations for summer shrimp prices were held, but the two sides could not agree.
According to the union, the Association of Seafood Processors (ASP) proposed 70 cents per pound while the FFAW proposed $1.18.
The matter is before the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel, which recently met in St. John’s to hear the proposals from both sides.
In its Facebook post, the FFFAW said their submission of $1.18 per pound “accurately reflects the year over year decline in the market.”
The union also said, “This is a challenging year for shrimp, as the market is lower than it was last year.”
Negotiations on the summer price for shrimp were held this week. This is a challenging year for shrimp, as the market is...Posted by FFAW/Unifor on Thursday, June 25, 2020
However, the union also said the 70 cent offer from the ASP “is a price that cannot be justified by any rational assessment of the market.”
Asked to elaborate on the current market challenges, FFAW president Keith Sullivan told SaltWire in an email, “This year, the shrimp market is facing some challenges due to COVID-19 and an emerging Russian fishery. As a result, the market is down by 28 percent.”
He also added, "For fairness and consistency, we approach pricing on a year over year basis. We do this for all species, as it accurately tracks changes in the market.
“FFAW's price position represents a 28 percent decrease from the $1.65 price established last summer. That price was established by the Panel, which selected the price submitted by ASP.”
Derek Butler, executive director for the ASP, said members of that association sell most of their shrimp to the European market.
“Europe is our most significant market. In recent years, pricing has increased beyond what can be supported, and that is in evidence to us." — Derek Butler
“We sell very little into the US, it is not really our market,” he told SaltWire in an email.
And the European market report on shrimp, a report commissioned by the province’s fisheries department, put the market at the same level as in 2014, according to Butler.
“Europe is our most significant market,” he said. “In recent years, pricing has increased beyond what can be supported, and that is in evidence to us, given the report says inventories existing in the market are sufficient to get to 2021.”
Butler added, “Quebec and New Brunswick (shrimp) pricing have decreased to the range of what ASP is now offering for NL harvesters, and they have larger-size shrimp than us.”
The debate on price is now in arbitration mode.
The Standing Fish Price Setting Panel is meeting today in St. John’s and hearing the arguments from Butler and Sullivan.
Under the price-setting mechanism, the Panel must choose one of the prices offered by the two sides.
There is no word on when the panel will make its decision on shrimp prices for the 2020 season but in the past, panel decisions have come within a day or two of arbitration hearings.