The aquaculture sector contributes to global food supply and provides an important source of animal protein. Even though the Italian sector has a great potential, from 2008 to 2014 the total volume decreased by 8%. Efficiency improvements may be one factor able to foster the development of the sector. The study aims to estimate the efficiency of the Italian aquaculture cooperatives that represent an important segment of the sector, and to assess differences in efficiency scores according to farms size and location. Descriptive statistics for the population of Italian cooperatives were showed based on budget data. An output oriented Data Envelopment Analysis was carried out for a sample of cooperatives. Results showed a great variability among firms in terms of budget and efficiency indicators. Around 40% of firms registered an efficient value under the variable return to scale hypothesis, and about 21% under the constant return to scale hypothesis. Study findings showed that there is an ample room for improving firms’ efficiency. Size is more important than location in relation to the performance of cooperatives. Cooperatives of smaller size and units located in the Italian Northern regions showed a greater inefficiency.
Keywords: Aquaculture cooperatives, efficiency analysis, data envelopment analysis, Italy; size
Jel Code: Q22, D24, L250