The export-based Australian prawn fishing industry accounts for 80% of the total Australian prawn catch and our major export market is Japan. A volatile market, dynamic exchange fluctuations and market erosion by substitution from aquaculture-produced prawns, has resulted in stock-piling of product in Japanese cold stores, falling prices and an uncertain future for the Australian industry.
An investigation of the industry is presented through the vehicle of a Porter (1980) analysis. The model was selected since it combines the five basic industry/structural competitive forces (which determine industry profitability) as well as the essence of the marketing mix. The strategy adopted was an examination of the Japanese market, a survey of Japanese importers to expose elements of market needs, a survey of Australian industry participants to uncover the vectors of competition (Porter's forces) and a survey of competitive strategies currently adopted across the industry. Surveys were conducted via interview and questionnaire survey instruments.
Results suggest the industry is "fragmented" (in the Porter sense) and the magnitude and balance of the five competitive forces are such as to ensure the export prawn industry is not a good industry to be in, nor to be contemplating entering. Projected development of the aquaculture industry is a cause for concern. Strategists within the industry recognize the threats and are developing a focused differentiation strategy as a means of overcoming the threat. The model is adequate but does not allow for external forces (currency movements).
The industry needs to quickly adapt. It is recommended that the industry organize, consider a focus differentiation strategy, investigate the concept of a premium appellation (quality standard mark) and urgently commission market research in Japan as a means of identifying customer needs. Just-in-time inventory management is suggested as a dawning reality.
Chapter 1 presents an overview of the industry, an insight as to the major substitute threat, a summary of the principal market structures and a summary of the objectives of this study. The second chapter describes the main methodologies, particularly the rationale in survey instrument design. A description is given on the instrument structure and the pilot testing of the instrument. The sample populations for both sets of survey targets are also described. Chapter 3 describes results of the study. It deals first with the Japanese market and Japanese Importers' perceptions. These are considered basically in terms of the Porter model's five competitive forces though are under the topic headings listed in the survey instrument. This chapter also considers results from the Australian exporter's survey and they are examined under Porter's five competitive forces. Finally, Chapter 3 examines current industry competitive industry strategies including a descriptive profile of respondents, a comparison of perceived profitability between companies, a summary of strategies and an attempt at quantitative multivariate analysis of instrument responses. Chapter 4 discusses results in the framework of a Porter analysis. It commences with a discussion of the model and the main results of both surveys, it contains an analysis of industry strategies and compares these with a similar industry, the meat industry. Chapter 5 is a summary of the conclusions of this study and what they mean in terms of the Porter model, asks how well the model approximates reality (a qualitative validation) and the practical application of the model. Chapter 6 are the recommendations arising from the study, particularly directions for further work. The final chapter highlights the limitations of the present work.