Research peels back layers of prawn industry

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Research peels back layers of prawn industry


USC Master of Business by Research student David Byrom

19 June 2014

New University of the Sunshine Coast research has peeled back the layers of the Moreton Bay fresh prawn industry in a bid to open new consumer markets.

David Byrom, 46, of Bribie Island, is now finalising his USC Master of Business by Research in which he investigated the management of the supply chain for fresh prawns harvested from the Moreton Bay fishery.

Mr Byrom, who has worked in operational management in commercial fishing industries and for the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said his USC research identified limitations in the supply chain and areas for improvement.

“Seventy-two percent of seafood consumed in Australia is imported, so it’s not a pretty picture for local fishers,” he said.

“There is an abundance of beautiful, fresh seafood on the doorstep of Brisbane, particularly the Bay prawns, yet there are problems with supply and demand.”

He interviewed Moreton Bay fishers, wholesalers and retailers to explore three key supply chain links – product flow, information flow and relationships – and found issues in all three.

“The biggest barrier I found was a lack of collaboration between the groups and within the groups,” he said.

The research found widely varying perceptions about what consumers wanted.

“Some thought ‘fresh or frozen’ was a buyer’s biggest priority,” he said. “Some thought it was the quality or size of the prawn. Others thought that cost was everything.”

Mr Byrom recommended further research to explore ways to improve supply chain management, such as through promotion, branding and species quality control, to ultimately make the industry more profitable.

His USC studies are part of an Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) national prawn research project.

Mr Byrom previously completed his Graduate Certificate in Business Research at USC.

“I’ve received excellent supervision from four academics including Associate Professor Meredith Lawley,” he said. “I’m on a path of personal development in the academic arena.”

— Julie Schomberg

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