"It's a very fragmented industry." Never have six words been uttered so many times in one person's career.
And this is no short career, no flash in the pan. This is 20 years of writing about the international seafood industry.
As a journalist you try and not repeat yourself too often. It doesn't work well in engaging an audience or with the flow of your story, but when it comes to writing about the shrimp sector repetition feels painfully unavoidable.
This is not true of any other segment of our coverage here at IntraFish.
The salmon farming sector, the only one really comparable in value, has changed beyond recognition over the last two decades. It has consolidated, modernized, professionalized. There are now tens of major publicly-listed salmon producers - most of which have a multi-national presence - big name investors, branded salmon products on the shelves and artificial intelligence and automation on the farms.
Fishing too, has progressed massively in most parts of the world. From health and safety to technology and sustainability, the industry is a vast, if unfinished, upgrade on what it used to be.
Even whitefish farming has developed. Starting from an almost non-existent base 20 years ago, cod, kingfish and barramundi all now have listed companies to their name and a future cushioned by technological advancement and research.
Shrimp farming on the other hand, seems largely unchanged.
There have certainly been developments in who leads the pack and there are companies and countries that stand apart, but overall, at the actual farm site it feels like little headway has been made in giving shrimp a sturdier foothold on which to build.
Farms in Asia in particular, are tiny. In India most farms are less than 5 hectares. They are largely family-owned and run, with harvests, if they don't fail, sold to a local processor before entering the hugely complex global supply chain.
Equipment at most farm sites is extremely limited. There is perhaps an aerator, an oxygen monitor at best, but the success of a large majority of production seems to rest on hopes and prayers, the very thought of which would have a Norwegian salmon farmer choking on their morning rye bread. Not to mention potential investors.
The problem is compounded by a somewhat insular base of expertise.
There are veterans of this industry who have within them extremely valuable knowledge and information, but more often than not when they try and educate and inform, they are shouting into an echo-chamber, heard only by those that have trodden a similar path.
The only real communication line into farming communities is through feed companies, but even they don't have that large an audience, with many farmers simply throwing together their own feed. And those that do, tend to operate through smaller brokers with their own agendas to push.
A break from this vicious circle looms on the horizon in the form of various IoT and AI solutions which aim to pull together a disparate industry and enable information sharing and data. But I can't help feeling a middle step is missing.
Can an industry made up of so many small and distant players every really compete to its potential on a world stage?
One US producer recently told me that there was no real reason, beyond the simple matter of better husbandry and handling, why shrimp couldn't be sold at the same price point as lobster.
But with this most basic level missing, how will this ever happen?
The end game here has to be consolidation. There has to be a Mowi or a Leroy or a Cooke come into play.
The Thai Unions and CP Foods of this world are huge shrimp producers, but they produce via a plethora of small privately-owned farms, simply contracted to sell to them. It is not the same.
They act to all intents and purposes as buyers, imparting some information, but largely interested in a steady supply over an individual farm's success or failure.
It is an impossible premise on which to build a professional industry: that a crop could -- and likely will -- fail at any time; that volumes are never certain or even really known; that prices rollercoaster on the back of that supply; and that the supply chain has very little control over what is coming from where and when.
Some overarching corporates across a few shrimp farming geographies could change all that. Equipment could be implemented, data shared, knowledge imparted and quality improved. An immediate change would take place, and with it, the rest of the industry would be pulled up by the boot straps, forced to compete or quit.
It reads, perhaps, like a harsh premise, a do or die kind of ultimatum. But surely, after all these years, this is the only conclusion to be drawn.
The beef industry wasn't made off the back of single cow farms, nor the global oil industry from a guy with a pump.
It's time for someone big to take the reins and see what shrimp can do.