Sea Pearls / Cultured Pearl Industry
Sea pearls, think of Nature, Mystique, Emotions, Excitement, Beauty, Illusions and Dreams. Let us not destroy these dreams. But when we look at the production, and distribution, we are looking at the other side of the coin, which is the professional side.
We talk about a commodity. We talk about a highly competitive industry in a free market system, not based on illusions, emotions and dreams.We face complex problems in both production and marketing and talk hard facts such as economies of scale, market forces, market shares, imbalances between supply and demand resulting in price volatilities, stock management and rotation, cash-flow, return on investment, profit and loss insea pearls .
Within our sea pearls / Seawater Cultured Pearl Industry, we have witnessed the development of three different industries, working quite independently from each other. The “three industries within one industry” are basically separated by the different oyster species producing different sea pearls in different geographical locations:
- Akoya is the sea pearls from the Pinctada fucata martensii oyster farmed in Japan (and minor production areas in China, Vietnam and Korea).
- South Sea Pearls from the black-lipped Pinctada margaritifera oyster farmed in French Polynesia (Tahiti) and other minor producing areas as later mentioned in this report.
- South Sea Pearls (SSPs) from the white and gold-lipped Pinctada maxima oyster farmed in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar (and minor producing areas in Sabah and PNG).
The sea pearls basically run on different tracks. But when it comes to marine science and biology, farming methods, systems and techniques, these three industries often overlap. And they all face similar situations and problems when it comes to the marketing, where they are in direct competition.
The global sea pearls / Seawater cultured pearl industry is very small in relation to diamonds, or other industries employing over 10,000 people producing higher value merchandise. What comes as a surprise to most is that the global industry has dramatically shrunk in value over the past fifteen or sixteen years. We talk in terms of values ex sea pearls farm (the value the farmers are getting for their produce by selling it to the wholesale trade):
- From an estimated 800 million dollars in 1993, it dropped to approximately US$ 500 million in 1999 and for 2009, we estimate it at approximately US$ 370 million.
- In terms of value, this is less than 50% when compared to just sixteen years ago!
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