Impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. Trout Foodfish Businesses

Impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. trout foodfish businesses:

Quarter 1 Results

Editors Note: This is an introduction to the Impacts of Covid 19 and the appendix for the U. S. trout foodfish business.

The full impact reports and fact sheets can be viewed at: https://www.arec.vaes.vt.edu/arec/virginia-seafood/research/Impacts_of_COVID19.html

A great debt of thanks you goes to Jonathan van Senten, Matthew A. Smith and Carole Engle for pulling this survey together and showing the results.

March 23, 2020 to April 10, 2020

Authored by Jonathan van Senten, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Center for Coastal Studies Affiliate Faculty, Virginia Seafood AREC, Virginia Tech; Carole R. Engle, Engle-Stone Aquatic$ LLC, Adjunct Faculty, Virginia Seafood AREC, Virginia Tech, and Matthew A. Smith, Extension Specialist, The Ohio State University;

Introduction

On March 23rd, 2020 Virginia Tech Seafood AREC and The Ohio State University Extension initiated an online survey of the U.S. aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied businesses. This survey was designed to capture and quantify the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied industries. The survey closed April 10th, 2020 at 11:59 pm. The survey will be distributed at the conclusion of every quarter for 2020, to attempt to capture the evolving impacts of COVID-19 over time.

Survey methods are detailed in the Virginia Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet VCE-AAEC-218, available at: https://www.arec.vaes.vt.edu/arec/virginia-seafood/research/Impacts_ of_ COVID19.html. This report is a supplemental report to the overall survey that summarizes results of trout foodfish farm respondents.

Characterization of Trout Foodfish Respondents Quarter 1 survey results showed that there were 14 trout foodfish farm participants, that represent approximately 4% of the U.S. trout foodfish farmers reported in the 2018 Census of Aquaculture (USDA, 2019). Thirty-six percent of trout foodfish respondents sold their fish to a distributor, 21% sold directly to consumers, 21% to restaurants, 14% to processors, and 7% to other aquaculture/aquaponics farms (Table 1). No respondents sold to grocery stores or supermarkets.

Table 1. Primary marketing channel for trout foodfish respondents.

  • Category Percentage
  • Distributors 36%
  • Direct to consumer 21%
  • Restaurants 21%
  • Processor 14%
  • Other aquaculture farms 7%
  • Grocery stores/supermarkets 0%

Key Findings

All (100%) trout foodfish respondents reported that their farm or business had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked whether their farm or business would survive the next 3 months without external intervention (such as government assistance), only 36% said, “yes.” Fifty-seven percent reported that their farm or business would “maybe” survive 3 months without external assistance, and 7% said that their farm or business would not survive 3 months without external assistance. When asked the same question, but for the next 6 months, 14% said that it would survive, 57% said “maybe,” and 29% said that their farm/business would not survive the next 6 months without external assistance. Responses related to 12 months without external assistance were that 57% indicated that they would not survive, 29% said that their farm or business would “maybe” survive, and only14% said that they would survive.

Lost Sales All (100%) trout foodfish farm respondents indicated that they had lost sales due to the COVID19 outbreak. In addition, 21% of trout foodfish respondents indicated that they had lost sales to international or export markets outside the U.S. In terms of the volume of sales that had been lost, 29% reported losses in the range of $10,001 to $25,000. An additional 14% of respondents that they lost either $250,001 to $500,000, greater than $1 million, or that they could not estimate the losses at this time. Seven percent of respondents reported sales losses of either $5,001 to $10,000, $25,001 to $50,000, $50,001 to $100,000, or $500,001 to $1 million. Those respondents that reported losses greater than $1 million reported losing $360,000/month and $4 million per month. The lost sales reported included canceled contracts of various sorts. All (100%) trout foodfish respondents reported losing private contracts for sales, and 21% reported losing government (state or federal) contracts for sales. One respondent reported being the sole supplier of trout for the food industry in a state in which all restaurants had been closed. Thus, this farm has not had any sales for 4 weeks.

Respondents were further asked what challenges they expected to experience on their farms or businesses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. All (100%) of trout foodfish respondents indicated that they expected to lose sales, with 21% expecting to lose international markets. In terms of the volume of sales expected to be lost, 29% expected to lose from $50,001 to $100,000, 14% each expected to lose from $10,001 to $25,000, $250,001 to $500,000, $500,001 to $1 million, or could not estimate the losses at this time. Another 7% of respondents expected to lose from $100,001 to $250,000 or greater than $1 million.

When asked how long trout foodfish respondents thought their farm or business could survive without sales before suffering longer term cash flow effects, 36% said less than 1 month, 29% said 1 to 3 months, and 14% each said 4 to 6 months and 7 to 10 months, with 7% not responding to this question. It should be noted that some respondents completed the survey four weeks prior to the preparation of this report

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