January 22, 2018

Florida's Shrimp Industry

Shrimp Giant

From Miami, the Moreira family runs an operation that's one of the biggest players in producing, distributing and marketing shrimp coming out of Central and South America.

Mike Vogel | 7/1/2006
More important, the Moreiras have built a vertically integrated operation that allows them to capture several layers of margins. They have interests in two of Guatemala's six large shrimp farms, a shrimp hatchery, feed mills and a processing plant in Guatemala to handle theirs and other growers' harvest, and they have built brands of processed shrimp, Maya and Sunday's Best. All told, the Moreiras market about 60 million pounds of shrimp a year.

A critical piece of their operation is their marketing arm, Ladex, which offers shrimp producers in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela a way to band together to sell to U.S. and European grocers and distributors. Ladex's 400 customers include retailers like Costco and Albertsons and food distributors servicing hotels and restaurants.

Ladex does $100 million in annual volume, receiving a fixed commission of 5% to 7%. It markets just a small slice of the estimated 8-billion-pound global shrimp market but has the largest single share -- though only 7% -- of the Central and South American market.

SOUTH OF THE BORDER: The Moreiras own shrimping operations in Central and South America, including this plant in Guatemala.

The Moreiras' own farming operations have withstood allegations of pollution and harm to local fishing-based economies. In 2001, according to the New York Times, protests emerged around a Moreira farm in Champerico over its effect on local fishermen, water quality and a fence. Police killed a protester while they tried to protect a farm company lawyer at one public meeting. A second man was killed at the plant weeks later by farm company guards during another protest. The company subsequently moved the fence on its property. Moreira defends the business's environmental record and says the difficulties were caused by thieves in a settlement near the farm and plant who instigated trouble among locals because their attempts to steal shrimp were being thwarted. The company lawyer was attacked while showing that the fence was on company property, and in the second incident, the "same group" broke its way through a door into the plant, Moreira says.Elmer Lopez, a former Greenpeace representative in Guatemala, says local people tell him the farm and its managers have become more positive in trying to help the community and regenerated the mangrove ecosystem. "The company hasn't (had) more problems with communities," Lopez reports. The Moreiras' processing plant provides a free school and medical care in the town.

Tags: Miami-Dade, Around Florida, Agriculture

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