Global oyster prices up 30% on production collapse

French producers falling deeper into herpes hole, and pulling other countries in.

French oyster farmers are looking at some desolate times ahead, as production dropped to 60,000 to 70,000 metric tons from previously 120,000 metric tons, Bruno Guillaumie, who heads European affairs for France’s shellfish farming organization Comite National de la Conchyliculture (CNC), told IntraFish.

"We have a decrease of production of about 50 percent," he said, and mortalities are expected to continue into this summer.

While the herpes virus continues to plague producers, other bacterial vibrio and environmental impacts such as polluted waters are also cause for "the drastic reduction" in production. "The quality of the water is a significant factor in the production of oysters," Guillaumie said.

Consequently, wholesale prices have increased by around 20 to 30 percent -- not only in France but globally, he told IntraFish.

Average consumer prices in France climbed to €11.60($15.10) per dozen large oysters in May this year, up from €10.96 ($14.30) in the same month last year, €8.01 ($10.40) in 2010, and €7.71 ($10) in May 2008, according to data from the National Instituteof Statistics and Economic Studies in Paris.

Prices for a dozen medium-sized oysters hiked to €9.55 ($12.40) in May this year, from €9.15 ($11.90) in the same month in 2012, €6.51 ($8.50) in 2010, and €6.08 ($7.90) in the same month of 2008.

France’s juvenile mortality problem started in 2008, when an oyster herpes virus (OsHV-1) started rapidly spreading across French oyster juveniles, causing mortality rates of 60 to 9EU0 percent across all of France’s oyster beds.

The virus can kill most of a farm’s stock of young shellfish in a day, and has since spread to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Stopping the virus or vaccinating oysters has so far proved impossible, and researchers have since tried breeding resistant strains of oyster juveniles.

CNC, in cooperation with research institute Ifremer, itself is trying to create "families with a high capacity to resist"

the virus, Guillaumie said, as previously reportedby IntraFish.

However, "it takes time to have significant results," he said, adding it is yet too early to say if the the hypothesis will prove a success.

To overcome some of the market challenges, some producers have started putting smaller, immature oysters on the market, a risk "we are trying to control."

All in all, the €630 million ($820.3 million) sector will not improve over the next two to three years, he said.

The full impact on France’s oyster production this year is yet to be seen as oyster sales typically first peak in July-August, when around 20 percent of sales are made. They then peak again in December, which accounts fortwo-third of sales are made.

"But the outlook remains the same," he said. "It's obviously a big challenge. We're very much dependent on the environment. But we'll have a better idea in October.


Ms Van Ha


Tel: +84 24 37715055 (ext. 216)

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