DRAFT COPY of Deale
, C., Norman, W., & Jodice, L.W. (2008). Marketing Locally Harvested Shrimp to South Carolina Coastal Visitors: The Development of a Culinary Tourism Supply Chain. Submitted to Journal of Culinary Science & Technology. 6(1).
Marketing Locally Harvested Shrimp to South Carolina Coastal Visitors:
The Development of a Culinary Tourism Supply Chain
Cynthia Deale, Ph.D., William C. Norman, Ph.D., and Laura W. Jodice
Abstract: This exploratory research investigated the connection between sales of shrimp at dockside retail establishments or by shrimp fishermen direct to the consumer, as well as the development of an effective culinary tourism supply chain for shrimp. Data from the South Carolina Coastal Tourism Survey (2004) were examined and the connection between wild, locally caught shrimp and tourism in South Carolina was investigated. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine the influence of 28 shrimp attributes on five different shrimp-tourism distribution options and revealed that four different combinations of shrimp attributes significantly influenced the food supply chain scenarios.
Key words: shrimp, tourism, supply chain
Cynthia Deale, Ph.D., is an
Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management ,
College of Business,
Western Carolina University ,
Cullowhee, North Carolina 28723
William C. Norman, Ph.D., is an
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management,
Clemson, South Carolina 29634-0735
Laura W. Jodice is a
Recreation, Travel and Tourism Institute,
Clemson, South Carolina 29634-0735
Marketing Locally Harvested Shrimp to South Carolina Coastal Visitors:
The Development of a Culinary Tourism Supply Chain
Can there be a connection between shrimp and tourism promotion and development? “Shrimp fresh off the boat is packed in ice and sold to wholesalers, restaurants, and - lucky for you - individuals” (Steinmann, 2005). Wild caught shrimp in the United States (U.S.) can be packed on ice, sold at dockside restaurants or sold in shops to take home. How can this fresh shrimp be effectively moved through the food supply chain at the local and regional level, and how can the promotion and purchase of American wild-caught shrimp help the shrimp industry and tourism in these areas? This exploratory research investigated the connection between sales of shrimp at dockside retail establishments, or by the shrimp fishermen (shrimpers) direct to consumers, and the purchase location’s impact on tourism in those regions.
Shrimp is the United States’ most popular seafood (NMFS, 2007), yet the domestic shrimp fishing industry is in trouble due to a drastic price decline resulting from competition with foreign markets and aquaculture. The Southern Shrimp Alliance, which represents shrimpers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas recognizes these problems, in particular, the “dumping” of foreign shrimp into the US market, and seeks solutions to return the domestic shrimp’s market/share to levels prior to the entry of foreign caught shrimp (Sparshott, 2004). Suggestions for resolving the problem include extensive restructuring of the US shrimp industry and developing new marketing strategies to survive (Feclyn, 2004; Goins & Kent, 2005). One strategy is to explore the interface between the shrimp industry and culinary tourism. Culinary or food tourism is a potentially lucrative niche that holds strong potential for economic growth (Wolf, 2002). Opportunities exist for destinations to promote and develop food products and specialized cuisine and to use those products to promote the destination. However, to develop an efficient culinary tourism supply chain, producers need to build effective tourist-based distribution channels for their food products that will also serve to promote the uniqueness of the tourism region or destination. This paper explores the connection between wild, locally caught shrimp and tourism in South Carolina.
Purpose of the Study
To study the shrimp-tourism supply chain, data from the South Carolina Coastal Tourism Survey (2004) were examined. This analysis explored the influence of shrimp attributes on coastal visitors’ interest in:
purchasing freshly caught shrimp to bring home
eating shrimp at local festivals and events
timing a visit to the South Carolina coast to when fresh locally harvested shrimp is available
using a travel guide with information on locations to purchase local shrimp
ordering shrimp to be mailed to them from the shrimp locale that they visited
The 28 attributes of the shrimp that were examined included:
when the it was caught
where it was caught
who caught it
whether it was harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner
storage temperature since caught
health safety (pollution)
health safety (additives, e.g., antibiotics or preservatives)
U.S.A. caught, state of origin
recommended by locals
supports local fishermen
fresh never frozen, in-season
good value for the money
size, tastes good
reputation of restaurant
reputation of vendor/retailer
a regional shrimp brand name
The major underlying research question for this analysis was: Does the influence of South Carolina coastal tourists’ importance ratings of shrimp attributes differ across five shrimp-tourism supply chain alternatives?
Background of the Shrimp Industry and Tourism Related to the Shrimp Industry
Since the year 2000, the shrimp industry in the Southeastern United States has been facing major economic challenges, the most significant of which is the suppressed prices of shrimp due to a dramatic increase in the supply of imports from producers of farmed shrimp in Asia and South America. This increased supply and reduced price has influenced U.S. consumption patterns. Per capita shrimp consumption in the U.S. reached a record high in 2004 and shrimp continues to be one of the most popular seafood products among U.S. consumers; yet current demand far exceeds domestic harvest and over 90 percent of shrimp consumed in the U.S. is now imported (NMFS, 2007).
However, the NOAA Fisheries of the United States 2005 report indicated that the U.S. South Atlantic region (excluding ports on the Gulf of Mexico) landings represent less than one percent of fresh/frozen shrimp available on the U.S. market (NMFS, 2007). This report also indicated that shrimp landings in the U.S. South Atlantic region declined 41 percent from 2004 to 2005. This is not a result of a decline in shrimp stock, but rather a reflection of the reduced fishing effort due to increasing operating costs and low economic return.
Specifically, in South Carolina the number of active fishing vessels has been declining since 2000 (SCDNR, 2006). Furthermore, the decline in processing and storage facilities in South Carolina and concentration of remaining facilities in the Gulf of Mexico region makes the South Carolina industry particularly vulnerable to catastrophic hurricane destruction and limits potential for regional branding and niche marketing of domestic, wild-caught shrimp at the national level (Jodice, Norman, Shenoy, & Woosnam, 2006). This makes competition with imports difficult.
Similar to other agricultural and seafood producers, the increased competition from foreign producers and changes in food supply chains has forced the shrimp industry to explore new strategies for marketing and distribution. For example, the Southern Shrimp Alliance has facilitated the formation of a non-profit company called Wild American Shrimp, Inc. to assist in the certification, branding, and promotion of a premium domestic shrimp that is wild-harvested in the Southeastern U.S. (WASI, 2007). The success of this effort will depend on defining consumer markets willing to pay more for domestic shrimp based on quality and regional attributes. WASI is already currently engaged in extensive advertising, educational, and promotional efforts on behalf of wild-caught American shrimp.
South Carolina tourists appear to be a valid target market for locally harvested shrimp. There are 25 million visitors to South Carolina annually, generating $7.8 billion in 2004 (TIA, 2005); and tourism ranks as the number one employer in the state, the third industry in terms of capital investment, and fourth in terms of gross state product. In addition, 56 percent of all South Carolina travel expenditures are in coastal destinations. (TIA, 2005). Therefore, relationships between restaurants, festivals, and other venues that tourists frequent, and local shrimp producers may need to be facilitated and different supply chain components may need to be explored and created (Jodice, Norman, Condrasky, Howell, Shenoy, McElroy, Dayton, & Wooten, 2005) to facilitate a more profitable shrimp industry in South Carolina.
In 2004, a study was conducted to define strategies for integration of the tourism and shrimp industries on the South Carolina coast. Project research objectives included:
A survey of South Carolina coastal tourists.
Culinary research comparing the taste of locally caught wild shrimp with other shrimp products,
Case studies of the shrimp distribution systems of South Carolina coastal restaurants that do and do not purchase local shrimp, and
Regional case studies that illustrate the integration of the shrimp industry with tourism.
Analysis of data from the South Carolina Coastal Tourism Survey (2004) identified tourist preferences for seafood and related commercial-fisheries tourism experiences. This study was supplemented by on-site observations; analysis of secondary data from restaurant interviews; and interviews with county tourism professionals, local officials, representatives from various organizations, and shrimp fishermen. Data also included printed material, website searches, and on-site observations regarding current shrimp tourism opportunities (Jodice et al., 2005). Results suggested that there is a segment of coastal tourists who prefer locally harvested shrimp. Researchers found that marketing and implementation of tourism related to shrimp differed in three South Carolina Coastal areas (Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Beaufort), so separate recommendations were developed to fit the needs of each region. Recommendations included marketing locally-caught shrimp on shrimp eating tours in Myrtle Beach and building a shrimp visitor center in Beaufort that focuses on the heritage of the local shrimp fishing industry (McElroy et al., 2005).
Results also suggested that locally and regionally owned restaurants on the coast were more likely than national chain restaurants to purchase local shrimp (Jodice et al., 2005). Therefore, results were integrated into training workshops for South Carolina chefs about local shrimp and the development and distribution of a chef booklet and a tourism booklet about local shrimp attributes and purchasing regulations (Jodice, et al, 2005). The case studies featuring coastal restaurants’ distribution systems for local shrimp are of particular interest in this project as they relate to a current focus in business on the need for effective food supply chains.
Food Supply Chains and Shrimp Distribution
The supply chain has become an important component of the food business environment and can be defined as the network of organizations that are linked to produce value to the customer in terms of products and services (Christopher, 1992). These linkages are directed towards the need for the development of effective and efficient production, movement, and transformation of goods from the raw materials stage through to the consumer, as well as the associated material information flows, upstream and downstream (Handfield and Nichols, 1999). Effective supply chain management is the integration of these activities though functional relationships to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
Overall, companies are striving for the right product, at the right place, at the right time (Larsen, 1997), and yet a major problem identified in many food supply chains is that of uncertainty which includes such issues as late deliveries, machine breakdowns, and order cancellations (Davis, 1993; van der Vorst, Beulens, & van Beek, 2000). Using chilled salads as an example product, researchers van der Vorst, Beulens, and van Beek, (2000) found that the main sources of uncertainty include length of the order forecast horizon, information availability and data timelines, decision-making policies used, and inherent supply, process, and demand uncertainties in the supply chain. In another example, that of a case study of potato farmers, a mix of economic, social, and environmental factors associated with sustainability exerted considerable influence on the supply chain as well (Vasileiou & Morris, 2006). Remedies to reduce uncertainty and improve supply chain performance include diminishing waiting and processing times; synchronizing, eliminating or reallocating business processes; shortening cycle times and increasing the execution of business processes; coordinating decision policies; implementing real-time information systems; standardizing and implementing definition of supply chain metrics; and creating information transparency in such areas as consumer demand information and production schedules (van der Vorst, Beulens, & van Beek, 2000
Crises in the food industry such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), foot- and-mouth disease, E coli infections due to contaminated spinach, and salmonella found in peanut butter indicate the need to be able to identify all of the steps in the food supply chains and to the importance of integrated control and cooperation (van der Vorst & Beulen, 2002). Food from an unsafe source has been found to be one of the top five reasons behind foodborne illnesses and points to the importance of identifying reliable sources of food products (Hernandez, 2006) and to the need for cooperative relationships within the food supply chain.
Companies often find themselves having to cooperate with other companies to make their food supply chains more effective (van der Vorst & Beulens, 2002). Retailers seek to improve their supply chains to have the competitive advantage and to improve food safety (Food Engineering, 2005), but that advantage is temporary, because competitive forces are constantly changing the marketplace. To compete in this era of temporary advantage, recommendations include focusing on the following:
1) insourcing and outsourcing - deciding whether to make or buy or vertically integrate;
2) supplier selection - finding the best suppliers and partners; and
3) the contractual relationship - determining the customer relationship, be it a joint venture, long-term contract, or strategic alliance (Doherty, 2001).
Basically, "the most successful companies will be those that take a proactive approach to designing their supply chains and learning to collaborate with other companies in their environment" (Doherty, 2001). As Taylor and Fearne (2006) noted in their paper proposing a framework for a food supply chain from farm to fork, “more collaboration and information sharing and joint planning beyond the manufacturer-retailer interface is critical if retail food supply chains are to function efficiently and effectively in retail environments where promotional activity creates significant uncertainty.”
In this technological era, supply chains not only deal with the supply of the product itself, but also with the flow of information related to the product, and many effective supply chains may seem more like circles, beginning and ending with the customer. Wal-Mart is a leading retailer globally and it has succeeded largely due to its highly competitive supply chain based on the flow of information to and from the customer. As Thomas Friedman (2006) noted in his book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Wal-Mart has been effective primarily due to that fact that it replaces inventory with information, redistributing goods to places where they are needed and keeping track of customer behavior continuously. Wal-Mart effectively uses real-time information technology to capture a staggering $130 billion of the $500 billion U.S. retail food business (Doherty, 2006). To save money and improve logistics, Wal-Mart cuts out wholesalers, buys directly from manufacturers, operates its own distribution center, and has introduced RFID (radio frequency identification microchips) to identify products (Friedman, 2006, p. 161). Dell Computer Company has also used information to its advantage so that every computer has a customer before it is built (Friedman, 2006, p. 154). In the twenty-first century, the implementation of leaner more highly integrated supply chains, increased technology that allows for the rapid flow of information, and an ever increasing amount of information available throughout the supply chain are changing the way companies do business, the way that consumers receive products, and the way that food supply chains operate.
Specifically, a culinary or food tourism supply chain requires clear communications and messages about the product to provide for different purchasing opportunities (O’Halloran & Deale, 2004). One of the communication issues related to food supply chains with fresh local products such as wild-caught U.S. shrimp is that the product may lack visibility (Proforest & IIED, 2006). In marketing terms, a product such as locally caught wild shrimp may need help with positioning to reconceptualize the product to make it “different” in the eyes of the consumer by focusing its “product, process, and place” to its advantage (Ilbery, Morris, Buller, Maye, & Kneafsey, 2005). To this end, Wild American Shrimp, Inc. (WASI) has engaged in significant advertising campaigns, even posting ads in publications such as Delta Air and Coastal Living magazines. Much of the advertising has worked to differentiate the shrimp product by its source, encouraging people to buy shrimp from known rather than unknown places and WASI has received funds from the federal government to help promote the product (WASI, 2007).
According to O’Halloran and Deale (2004), several factors may also be important for a more effective food supply chain operation for shrimp and related tourism or for tourism related to other food products. These factors include the need to: provide clear communications and messages about product and ordering processes, foster the packaging of existing market ready and near market ready products, initiate pilot projects to develop or initiate new tourism food products, highlight best practices and recognize those partners that are getting the job done, and identify branding opportunities for the food tourism products. A typical food supply chain is shown in Figure 1 (O’Halloran, & Deale, 2004), and while this works conceptually for many products, special considerations may have to be given to the supply chain components for U.S. wild caught shrimp, due to the nature of the product and its processing.
Case studies concerning coastal restaurants’ distribution systems for local shrimp revealed some interesting findings about their shrimp preferences and the characteristics of their shrimp supply chains. Managers and chefs of locally and regionally managed restaurants were more likely to purchase local shrimp, while corporate owned restaurants made purchase decisions based on corporate guidelines that did not involve buying local shrimp, although some did purchase local shrimp if they could not get shrimp from their regular suppliers (Jodice, et al, 2005). Price was a major concern to restaurateurs, but restaurateurs purchasing local shrimp generally did so because they believed the taste and quality were superior to other products. Some restaurants serving local shrimp have developed ongoing relationships with local fishermen, shrimp dock owners, and shrimp wholesalers, while others obtain local shrimp from family members involved in the shrimp industry. Restaurateurs serving local shrimp may also work with a local supplier who has freezer space and prefer local suppliers because they can visit the supplier and also because they prefer to support the local economy (Jodice, et al., 2005). In the interviews for the case studies, Restaurateurs identified several barriers to purchasing locally-caught shrimp. They included: price, product availability, extra labor cost (as there is little processing available in the state), inconsistent quality, difficulties in finding a local supplier, and limited shelf life of local products (Jodice, et al., 2005). Investigating connections between tourism and shrimp might prove useful towards understanding how to remove these barriers through connections via the shrimp supply chain and its interface with tourists.
Interfaces between the food supply chain and tourism are important as culinary tourism is a growing market and no longer considered just a form of alternative tourism, but rather it is becoming a viable sector of the travel and tourism business (Du Rand & Heath, 2006, Crouch & Ritchie, 1999; Poon, 1993, TIA, 2007). According to Nation’s Restaurant News (2005), the growth of culinary tourism reflects an outgrowth of the increased interest in dining out and is no longer the domain of the “foodie” (a niche tourist with deep interests in food and culinary events), but is moving into the mainstream of the American population as a form of tourism. However, as Du Rand and Heath (2006) point out, to be effective as a viable component of tourism in a destination area, the market potential for food tourism must be assessed to determine the feasibility of culinary tourism related to a specific product or groups of products. This study attempted to find out more about the viability of positioning the local, wild-caught shrimp industry as a potential feature of tourism in South Carolina.
Data used in this study were gathered through administration of the 2004 South Carolina Coastal Tourism Survey which consisted of a proportionate stratified survey of coastal visitors who were systematically intercepted from July through October, 2004 in four of the six counties of coastal South Carolina. Addresses were collected at 27 tourist venues (n=831). The sampling proportion was based on 2001-2002 visitor expenditures by county (TIA, 2003). The survey was directed towards tourists visiting the Myrtle Beach, Charleston, or Beaufort areas and used a food preference scale designed to identify subgroups of culinary tourists related to their food and dining out preferences (Shenoy, 2005). Participants were sent a ten page mail-back survey within two weeks after their trip and 356 returned surveys were usable, for a response rate of 44.3 percent. Of the 356 respondents, 86.5 percent (n=308) indicated that they ate shrimp and were included in the supply chain analysis.
In an effort to find the most parsimonious models, a series of five stepwise multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine the influence of 28 shrimp attributes on the five different shrimp-tourism distribution options. To test these relationships, respondents who eat shrimp were asked to rate on a scale of 1=strongly disagree to 5= strongly agree, if they would :
1) purchase freshly caught shrimp to bring home (mean=3.15, sd=1.27),
2) eat shrimp at local festivals and events (mean=3.48, sd=1.01),
3) time a visit to the South Carolina coast to when fresh locally harvested shrimp is available (mean=2.78, sd=1.11),
4) use a travel guide with information on locations to purchase local shrimp (mean=2.93, sd=1.13), and
5) order shrimp to be mailed to them from the shrimp locale that they visited (mean=2.18, sd=.994).
The means and standard deviations of the 28 attributes, measured on a scale of 1 = not important to 5 = extremely important are presented below:
when the shrimp was caught (mean=3.73, sd=1.35)
where the shrimp was caught (mean=2.88, sd=1.37)
who caught the shrimp (mean=2.15, sd=1.27)
harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner (mean=3.09, sd=1.42)
storage temperature since caught (mean=4.19, sd=1.15)
government inspected (mean=3.75, sd=1.31)
industry inspected (mean=3.78, sd=1.24)
health safety (pollution) (mean=4.34, sd=.998)
health safety (additives, e.g., antibiotics or preservatives) (mean=4.07, sd=1.17)
certified organic (mean=2.74, sd=1.46)
USA caught (mean=3.48, sd=1.38)
state of origin (mean=3.06, sd=1.42)
local wild-caught (mean=3.08, sd=1.35)
local farm-raised (mean=2.68, sd=1.32)
recommended by locals (mean=3.58, sd=1.23)
supports local fishermen (mean=3.54, sd=1.25)
fresh never frozen (mean=3.60, sd=1.28)
in-season (mean=3.51, sd=1.24)
premium quality (mean=4.02, sd=1.02)
appearance (mean=4.21, sd=.866)
nutritional value (mean=3.21, sd=1.22)
low price (mean=3.40, sd=1.00)
good value for the money (mean=3.75, sd=.935)
size (mean=3.67, sd=.890)
tastes good (mean=4.64, sd=.693)
reputation of restaurant (mean=4.18, sd=.932)
reputation of vendor/retailer (mean=3.96, sd=1.10)
and a regional shrimp brand name (mean=2.96, sd=1.33)
Results of the analyses revealed that the following attributes were significant predictors of bringing home freshly caught shrimp (F=11.59, p<.01, r2=.166):
supporting local fisherman (beta=.256)
local wild-caught (beta=.169)
reputation of a restaurant (beta=.161)
low price (beta=.133
Supporting local fisherman (beta=.231) was the only significant predictor of eating fresh shrimp at local festivals and events (F=13.21, p<.01, r2=.053). The following attributes significantly predicted visitors timing their visit to the South Carolina coast when fresh locally harvested shrimp is available (F=14.40, p<.01, r2=.201):
supporting local fisherman (beta=.324),
nutritional value (beta=.305),
size (beta=-.143) and
government inspection (beta=-.138).
Supporting local fisherman (beta=.314) was also the only significant predictor of having a travel guide with information on locations to purchase local shrimp (F=25.71, p<.01, r2=.099). Lastly, supporting local fishermen (beta=.308) and size (beta=-.144) were the only significant attributes in predicting interest in ordering shrimp to be mailed to tourists from where they visited (F=11.44, p<.01, r2=.089).
Implications and Recommendations
The stepwise multiple regression models revealed that four different combinations of shrimp attributes significantly influenced the five shrimp-tourism food supply chain scenarios. Individually, supporting local fisherman was revealed to be the most important attribute, having a significant positive influence on visitors’ interest in bringing freshly caught shrimp home, eating fresh shrimp at local celebrations, timing their visit to the coast, using a travel guide, and having shrimp shipped to them from their vacation destination. In terms of the culinary or food supply chain for local shrimp, the findings suggest that furthering relationships between local fishermen and tourists would help promote the local product. The Beaufort Shrimp Festival, for example, works closely with the local chamber of commerce and the local shrimp industry to promote the product and more opportunities to highlight local fishermen could prove beneficial (Jodice et al., 2005).
The attributes locally wild-caught shrimp and low price were also significant predictors in bringing home freshly caught shrimp and nutritional value was influential in visitors timing their visit to the coast. Since these properties were seen favorably by tourists it appears that further efforts to highlight the qualities of local shrimp would prove positive, indicating the importance of integration between the shrimp and tourism industries. As Jodice et al. (2005) noted, genuine partnerships between the chambers of commerce and the local shrimp industry can benefit both the local shrimp industry and local tourism. Interestingly, reputation of a restaurant, size, and government inspection had an inverse relationship with visitors’ interest in taking home locally harvested shrimp, timing their visit, and having shrimp mailed to their home.
Conclusions and Further Research
Food and tourism go together naturally and locally-caught shrimp might be a food that could be effectively marketed strategically through the connection to tourism. Providing shrimp directly to consumers via a variety of different distribution channels may enhance the tourism image of an area and may offer supply chain channels for achieving a premium price. It has been suggested that farmers may need to get closer to their markets to survive and perhaps the same can be said for the shrimp industry. Locally-caught shrimp do appear to be of interest to tourists, however, perhaps further attempts need to be made to provide multiple opportunities for people to buy fresh shrimp at coastal venues. Higher visibility of local shrimp in coastal areas through farmers’ markets or in this case seafood markets might provide more opportunities for shrimp fishermen to sell their products and for tourists to buy them (Pendrous, 2003). Farmers’ markets have increased in popularity as a means to provide opportunities for consumers to buy directly from local producers and possibly similar seafood markets might improve the visibility of local shrimp and offer more occasions to make the product available to consumers. Making local shrimp available through multiple market outlets in coastal areas may improve product visibility.
Vertical coordination in the shrimp supply chain, which lies between complete vertical integration and open markets, may also improve the prospects of selling local shrimp. Vertical cooperation requires successful partnerships between producers, marketers, sellers, and perhaps other newly created positions, for example liaisons between the shrimp fishermen and the sales venues. Successful partnerships need: clear benefits for all partners, a good strategic fit between partners, the involvement of all management levels, and organizational flexibility (Ziggers & Trieneken, 1999). Shrimp supply chains that include a variety of partners including those with innovative, entrepreneurial ideas may assist the locally caught wild shrimp industry in becoming a business with a product of choice by consumers (Beckeman & Skjoldebrand, 2007). A carefully coordinated and integrated food supply chain may be helpful for increasing the amount of shrimp purchased by coastal visitors and for improving the sustainability of the local shrimp industry.
Support for local fishermen was a particularly important attribute in the study and attention to this particular component of the shrimp industry may perhaps be addressed through the idea of promoting “social capital” and connecting the consumer more closely to the shrimp supply chain through multiple activities suggested by Jodice et al. (2005), increasing the information level of consumers regarding local products (Vasilieou & Morris, 2006), and carefully considering the locally-caught shrimp supply chain. A locally-caught shrimp supply chain might look like the one in Figure 2.
In the supply chain in Figure 2, shrimp fishermen catch local shrimp and then either process it in their own operations (by packing fresh shrimp in ice) or take it to local processors and then transport it directly to retail outlets or restaurants or other sales venues. Processing at the local level in South Carolina is primarily limited to heading, and icing (using layers of ice cubes) of fresh, not-frozen shrimp or freezing shrimp in blocks of ice. The dock owners themselves often pack shrimp in bins layered with ice cubes. In South Carolina, there are currently two docks that have larger facilities that can process the shrimp into frozen blocks. Processing shrimp can include IQF (individually quick frozen) procedures that allow the product to last longer in freezers. This process is conducted by processors of imported farm raised shrimp and this is why farmed imported shrimp is often preferred in food service operations. By using these products, the chef can selectively thaw just enough shrimp for a meal, and the product lasts longer. There is none or very limited IQF processing available at the local level in South Carolina, hence, fresh local shrimp often means only shrimp that has been processed through icing; other packaging that might extend its shelf life is being explored for example by food scientists at Clemson University, but as far as the authors could tell it is not currently being utilized.
A link in the chain pictured in Figure 2 that has perhaps not been utilized previously is someone who may act as a shrimp liaison to provide a conduit to a variety of sales locations such as festivals, seafood or farmer’s markets, seafood stalls or carts, or other tourism-related sales sites. These sales venues may in turn offer opportunities for consumers to buy online or via an 800 number once they leave the coastal area. While current supply chain trends appear to be cutting out wholesalers, as is the case with giant retailers like Wal-Mart, the use of a shrimp liaison might prove helpful towards increasing customer awareness of the product, improving the information flow about the wild-caught shrimp product, and acting as a sort of shrimp and tourism industry or culinary tourism ambassador.
In addition, a careful analysis of the shrimp supply chain may be warranted to enhance not only the actual distribution of the product but its perceived availability and to establish the particular goals of the supply chain so that the supply chain may be modified and adapted to meet the needs of the local shrimp industry and the consumer (Apaiah, Hendrix, Merdink, Linneman, 2005). In the dynamic climate of the food business today, it is becoming increasingly important to study the integration of an entire food supply chain rather than one part in isolation (Springer & Hall, 2007) and the same might be said for the supply chain for local wild shrimp.
As mentioned earlier, culinary tourism represents a growing market and is no longer considered just as an alternative form of tourism, but rather it is becoming a viable sector of the mainstream travel and tourism business (Du Rand & Heath, 2006, Crouch & Ritchie, 1999; Poon, 1993, TIA, 2007). U.S. locally caught wild shrimp may benefit as a product from this trend through the promotion of local foods for their taste, freshness, uniqueness, and sustainability. Therefore, developing a culinary tourism marketing strategy that interfaces with the supply chain for a regional food such as locally-caught shrimp becomes a shared venture between tourism organizations, producers, processors, and in the end, consumers.
This study found that coastal visitors are sensitive to the sustainability of the state’s shrimp fishing tradition and that both the shrimp and tourism industries in coastal South Carolina need to communicate how purchasing locally harvested shrimp supports local fisherman as well as its nutritional value, affordability, taste, and that it is local and wild-caught. As proposed and piloted by Clemson researchers (Jodice et al., 2005), educational experiences and materials provided to those involved in marketing tourism and to the public may help to increase the awareness, understanding, and appreciation of locally -caught shrimp. Further analysis of the survey data is also needed to explore what media and information sources should be utilized by the different shrimp-tourism food supply chain alternatives to effectively tell the story of South Carolina’s shrimp industry and appropriate product attributes; WASI , and its informative website are already trying to share this story.
Additional questions arising from this analysis include:
1) How can supply chain considerations benefit the shrimp industry and tourism?
2) How can greater integration of the local shrimp industry and tourism be achieved?
3) How can the local marketing of local wild-caught shrimp and related experiences to tourists contribute to the survival and sustainability of the shrimp industry on the South Carolina coast?
Answers to these questions may hold keys to the sustainability of the local shrimp industry and provide further opportunities for coastal tourism.
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