The coronavirus pandemic rumbled on throughout May, its ebb and flow forcing shifts in practices, products and markets in the seafood industry.
Producers were forced to rethink speed of supply, with the biggest shrimp supplier to the United States, India, delaying stocking as prices plunged, a trend that reflected just one way a particular sector of the industry is adapting to COVID-19.
Processors, too, had immediate change inflicted upon them. As frontline food manufacturers, they were allowed to stay open, but even the best-laid plans to prevent the spread of covid infections in factories were put to the test, with the industry sparking clusters of disease, including in vulnerable areas such as Africa and Alaska.
The outbreaks highlight the importance of transparency and communication around infections in the sector, which Editor-in-Chief Drew Cherry emphasized in his column.
Farmed salmon reveals a fighting spirit
Meanwhile, despite varying first quarter financial results, the farmed salmon industry led the way in terms of agility, revealing a resilience also mirrored in some of the sector's foodservice markets, with the UK's huge fish and chips sector, for example, rebounding from the previous month's depressing outlook to show a strong future remains for those who accept and adapt to change.
But it wasn't just seafood processing that was put to the test, with much mainstream press around meat factory shutdowns and product shortages. The stories prompted IntraFish to ask what opportunities these shortages might present for the seafood sector, speaking to leading agronomists to understand the key differences between meat and seafood supply chains.
The interviews threw up some stark differences, further backed in an interview with Cargill's Pilar Cruz, who gave us valuable insight into why seafood is losing the protein battle, and prompting Editor Rachel Mutter to highlight why today's seafood industry will never compete with other proteins.
One of seafood's strengths in its battle against other proteins is a overwhelmingly better feed conversion ratio across most of its production industries, but much work still needs to be done to find sustainable additional sources of nutrition, work that an event like the pandemic only acts to accelerate, execs from some of the world's biggest aquaculture feed producers told IntraFish.
Wild-catch sector deals with own challenges
But it was not just aquaculture in the limelight last month, as the start of annual Copper River salmon season kicked off, with IntraFish providing live updates on catches, prices and new and ongoing challenges to the sector. We also revealed shocking insight into the 'unprecedented' cancellation of surveys critical to Alaska pollock, Pacific cod harvest decision-making and what it will mean for the industries affected.
Meanwhile, two of North America's biggest players, across both the wild-caught and aquaculture sectors reached a deal to merge Alaska wild salmon operations, a story first broken by IntraFish and which our analysis revealed to be a contentious pairing among fishermen.
The news followed an executive order from President Donald Trump earlier in the month to grow the country's aquaculture sector, a move that looks to be in the right direction for a country so reliant on imports -- many of the world's major markets should probably be looking to be more self-sufficient -- but also one which prompts questions around actual follow-through.
Don't miss out on what's important in seafood news.