Texas State receives USDA grant for research into Southern aquaculture marketing

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By Milthon Lujan

By Jayme Blaschke*
USA – The Department of Agricultural Sciences at Texas State University has, in partnership with Mississippi State University and Virginia Tech University, received a $300,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Southern Regional Aquaculture Center (SRAC) for market research on Southern aquaculture products.


Of the grant, Texas State will receive approximately $220,000 and conduct much of the research. Ganesh Kumar, with Mississippi State’s Delta Research and Extension Center, is the principal investigator on the project. Madan Dey, chair of the Department of Agricultural Sciences, oversees Texas State’s involvement.

“Texas State has been working on seafood market research for some time now, but this is the first time we’ve received funding from the SRAC,” Dey said. “This is essentially a bottom-up approach where industry plays a vital role. Industry interest groups go to SRAC saying, ‘We have a problem to solve. Do you have people in the country who could help us sort it out?’ That’s how the concept gets formulated. That’s how we became involved.

“Although we’re not officially the project leader, most of the work will be done here at Texas State,” Dey said. “We are building a good and fruitful relationship with the aquaculture industry for the future.”

Aquaculture is an important agribusiness activity in the Southern U.S. Most U.S. aquaculture ventures are small and medium sized enterprises with limited capabilities for marketing research and market development. Given the rapid changes in retail market brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the aquaculture industry needs timely inputs about market outlook for seafood products. This project will directly help the aquaculture industry make better marketing decisions by analyzing sales of seafood products in major markets across U.S. The project will also throw new light on the U.S. seafood market through scholarly academic research.

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The Texas State team will utilize big data analysis to evaluate seafood consumption to develop a better understanding of the grocery marketplace for Southern aquaculture products, including catfish, trout, crawfish, clams and salmon. This is expected to improve marketing decision-making in the Southern aquaculture industries. Two large databases derived from the syndication of seafood product barcode scanning will be purchased. One will allow the analysis of grocery store sales of the seafood products at 37 major geographical markets while the other enables analysis of household-level seafood consumption. By analyzing these databases, the project will develop, describe and document the characteristics of sales quantities/demand, prices, market shares and expenditure patterns of Southern aquaculture products.

The project will utilize the databases to improve the marketing performance of farmers and processors, enabling a deeper understanding of current market as related to prices, volumes, product forms and emerging trends of Southern aquaculture products as well as their substitutes and complements.

*Source: Texas State University

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