Diversify shrimp export products or lose Japanese market, producers warned

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
28 February 2007, at 12:00am

VIET NAM - Vietnamese exporters have been advised to diversify their shrimp export products, otherwise, they will lose the Japanese market.

According to the Vietnamese Business Affairs Division in Osaka, the imports of white shrimp (Peneus Vannamei) to Japan has been increasing considerably in the last time. It is estimated that the total imports of white shrimp will exceed the imported volume of black tiger shrimp, the Japan’s key import item since late 1990s.

Many years ago, Japanese market mainly consumed caught shrimp. However, since the 1980s, black tiger shrimp has become favourite in Japan with stable supplies. In addition, the size of black tiger shrimp proves to be suitable to make roasted shrimp, the favourite dish for Japanese people. That explains why black tiger shrimp has been dominating the market.

However, white shrimp later has also become the preferential import item thanks to the advantages in cost and stable supplies. It is very likely to see white shrimp to replace black tiger shrimp to dominate the market, though this kind of shrimp has disadvantages: it is more tasteless and smaller in size compared to black tiger shrimp.

White shrimp is being grown in North America and the countries in the central and southern America like the US, Venezuela and Brazil. Recently, this kind of shrimp is being hatched in Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, China and Taiwan territory. It is easier to breed white shrimp, which can bring the output two folds higher than black tiger shrimp. Analysts said that the production cost is 25-30% lower than black tiger shrimp.

According to the Ministry of Trade, recently, the Philippines’ Ministry of Agriculture has removed the ban on white shrimp import and hatchery in the country.

The ban on white shrimp hatchery was imposed in 2001, when the country attempted to protect black tiger shrimp from Taura syndrome. However, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources still decided to hatch white shrimp in a trial period as it realised the high demand of the world’s market. The shrimp breeders were imported from the US’s Florida, and the hatchery of white shrimp has shown satisfactory results.

Thailand now also is shifting to hatch white shrimp and it has become the biggest supplier of frozen white shrimp to Japan.

The change in the tastes of Japanese consumers will lead to the adjustment in the imports structure of the country. It would be wise for Vietnam, the biggest supplier of black tiger shrimp to Japan, to consider breeding and exporting white shrimp to Japan.

In 2006, the frozen shrimp imports by Japan increased by 1.1% over the previous year, reaching $2bil (Vietnam-sourced shrimp accounted for 23% of the market share). The white shrimp imports increased by 10%m while the black tiger shrimp imports decreased by 10%.