Supplies and prices
Trends in raw material supplies have been mixed because of the price decline in international markets as well as disease problems in some of the aquaculture regions. While supplies increased from Thailand and India, the trend was reversed in Viet Nam and Indonesia.
Antibiotic residue problems in Vietnamese and Indian shrimp affected supplies to the Japanese market. Disease problems have also affected supplies of Indonesian vannamei shrimp and had an impact on shrimp production in Malaysia, with production of vannamei shrimp in Malaysia expected to be around 65 000 tonnes down from the 75 000 tonnes harvested in 2011.
In Japan, declining demand for black tiger shrimp pushed export prices down to USD 9.50/kg for 16/20 counts headless product, which is possibly the lowest on record since 2010.
Ex-farm prices of vannamei in Thailand were 20% lower in May than the same month last year as a result of an influx of supplies, but recovered by 2-3% in July as a result of government and industry intervention. Overall, prices of Thai vannamei shrimp have dropped from USD 5.6/kg in January to around USD 4.00/kg in May.
Thai frozen shrimp exports in the first five months of 2012 shrank by 2.2% to USD 552 million largely as a result of the drop in exports to EU markets, according to the Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol. Exports to the EU, valued at USD 79 million, declined by 16%. The EU market is Thailand’s third biggest market after the USA and Japan.
In early May, the Thai government approved a budget of THB 2 billion (USD 66.6 million) to intervene in the market to prevent the sharp drop in prices of farmed shrimp. About THB 93.85 million (USD 3.1 million) will be used to subsidise interest rates for seafood processors to purchase 30 000 tonnes of vannamei from farmers at THB 135 (USD 4.4) a kg for size 60 pieces/kg.
In Japan this year, initial demand for shrimp from intermediary users was weak and only picked up later because of slow consumer demand from May till mid-July. Despite the strong yen, importers continue to put pressure on prices.
Imports of shrimp and shrimp products were higher than last year’s but in favour of coldwater shrimp from Argentina, whose appeal to consumers lies primarily in its attractive price. Overall, the average shrimp consumption level in Japan increased by 5%.
China imported lower amounts of frozen shrimp during the first quarter of 2012, down by 13.1% year on year. Among the main suppliers, only Canada managed to increase its shipments by more than 26%, while imports from Malaysia and Ecuador were down by 20% and 33.3% respectively. Imports from Thailand were more or less stagnant. Frozen shrimp imports from Ecuador into China increased significantly to 5 574 tonnes last year from only 324 tonnes in 2009.
Meanwhile Viet Nam has been importing shrimp from Thailand for re-processing this year. According to the Thai Eastern Shrimp Association, during the January-April period, Viet Nam imported 2 860 tonnes of shrimp from Thailand, three times that of the previous year, driven by cheaper shrimp prices. Viet Nam has increasingly imported shrimp raw material from other countries, including from India, as domestic shrimp farming has been suffering from widespread disease.
While supplies from India could generate good demand for shrimp, especially large sizes (21/26 and 26/30), the most experienced traders predict a decline in prices as August approaches and more shrimp of these sizes is expected to be available in the market.
Reduced demand in Japan means that the US market is the preferred target of producers, but the news on the increased employment rate in June is good news for seafood promoters and the shrimp market is expected to benefit.
Meanwhile, the softening economic growth in China is predicted to affect demand for shrimp, thus imports are expected to slow down this year.
Source: FAO Globefish