Outlets for aquaculture products
When considering outlets for aquaculture products, one has to make a distinction between small-scale familial fish culture and large-scale commercial farming. Production from small-scale farms meant for the neighbourhood community seldom gets beyond the village market and is generally sold in the fresh state to consumers or fish peddlers at the farm gate. Except when there are a large number of farms in the area, supplies tend to be irregular and seasonal. In tropical climates, some regularity of supplies can be maintained by rearing quickly growing species in series of ponds or other grow-out facilities and harvesting each at required intervals. Multiple stocking and harvesting procedures have also been developed in certain culture systems.
In large-scale farming, distant domestic or export markets may have to be catered to. Preservation and processing of products, long-distance transport and a variety of retail outlets may then be involved. Even in such cases, the products can be sold in live or fresh condition,as for example carp grown in mainland China sold in Hong Kong markets, yellowtail and kuruma shrimp in Tokyo markets, Macrobrachium grown in Martinique in Paris markets, etc. In order to reduce the need for long transport and ensure the availability of fresh products, countries like China have encouraged the establishment of production farms in suburban locations to feed urban markets. In many countries, governmental policies have tended to promote aquaculture production in inland areas, where there is a shortage of fish supplies due to distance from the main marine fishing areas. While there has been considerable interest in locating farms near tourist centres to increase sales of high-valued products in some states in eastern Europe (Hungary, Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro and Slovenia) and also in Greece, Italy, Taiwan and Japan, supermarkets are becoming dominant in fish sales everywhere. However, tourists remain important consumers in eastern Europe, and so rather than siting fish farms near tourist centres, farms are set up to attract tourists to buy fresh fish, for angling, or to eat fish in the farm restaurant. The number of such multi-functional fish farms (mainly pond fish farms) is growing in eastern Europe, and can offer various services including bird watching and sight-seeing; recreational facilities such as museums and fitness centres, and also restaurants and hotels (L. Varadi,personal communication).The display of live fish or shrimps in special market ponds,pools or aquaria and the opportunity for consumers to select the ones that they would like to eat has served as a great attraction in many areas.
While the above types of small-scale outlets serve a very useful purpose, disposal of larger production would require much greater organization. Systems that have been adopted with success are (i) house to house delivery, (ii) sale through special fish markets or fish stalls in general markets, (iii) grocery or supermarket sales and (iv) sales to restaurants. When processing or export is involved, there are generally one or more intermediaries who process the product, pack and ship them to consuming centres.
Although one talks of market outlets and strategies in aquaculture, usually only the consumption fish are considered. Many aquaculture farms produce only fry, fingerlings, smolts or yearlings. Customers for these products are either other aquaculturists who grow them to consumption size or public or private organizations concerned with stocking open waters for recreation or commercial fishing. Producers of crustacean larvae or oyster spats also sell them to other aquaculturists, who grow them to consumption size.
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