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Low and Stable Shrimp Prices Fueling Demand in the EU and Japan

Lucy Towers
12 January 2017, at 12:00am

GLOBAL - Although shrimp supplies remained stable during the first half of 2016, shrimp farmers in most of the producing countries in Asia have been struggling with a number of challenges during the main farming season (JulySeptember). These include poor weather conditions, disease problems, unattractive prices and slow demand in the US market. Production did increase in Thailand however, reports FAO GLOBEFISH.

Supply

For the first half of 2016, shrimp farmers have had it tough. Lower production of farmed shrimp has been reported in China due to disease issues. Similarly, production in the southern Indian states of Andhra and Tamil Nadu has also been affected by disease outbreaks (white spot syndrome, terocytozoon hepatopenaei, white feces and running mortality syndromes) and flooding. Despite these difficulties, overall supply in India has been balanced by farmers significantly shifting from black tiger to vannamei around the southeastern belt of India, namely Gujarat, Odissa and West Bengal. Indian farmers continued to produce more large sizes suitable for 13/15–21/25 shell-on products.

Indonesian farmers have also had stocks affected by diseases and have had to move to new areas as a result. Based on sales of shrimp feed, production this year can be forecasted to be more or less the same as 2015, close to 600 000 tonnes.

Authorities in Viet Nam have reported lower harvests this year. Farming of vannamei and black tiger shrimp in the Mekong Delta, the largest farming area of the country, has been affected by diseases and draught during the first part of the year. According to the industry association the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the farming area for black tiger shrimp expanded this year, but production volume remained unchanged compared with last year.

Thailand is the only country where the shrimp farming sector seems to have come out this season unscathed. Slow but steady rise in vannamei production has been observed and this year's production is likely to reach 300 000 tonnes.

Exports

Global ranking of shrimp exporters during the first half of 2016 remained the same as that in 2015 with Ecuador, India, Thailand, Indonesia and China as the top five exporters.

The leading two exporters, Ecuador and India, increased exports by 7.6 percent and 10.8 percent to total 180 000 and 179 000 tonnes respectively. For Ecuador, the top three export destinations during the reporting period were Viet Nam (80 000 tonnes), the EU (44 000 tonnes) and the USA (35 000 tonnes).

Coming out from disease issues, Thailand regained its market share and ranked third in global shrimp exports. Supplies increased by 33 percent during January–June 2016 against the same period last year to 94 000 tonnes. Its main markets in volume exports were the USA, Japan, Viet Nam, Hong Kong SAR and Canada.

Indonesia followed Thailand in exports, with volumes reaching 80 000 tonnes (+7 percent) during January–May of this year. Its top five markets were the USA, Japan, the EU, Malaysia and Viet Nam. Exports may have crossed 90 000 tonnes during the first half of the year.

China had a 2.3 percent rise in shrimp exports to come to 82 000 tonnes during the reporting period. Exports increased to the USA, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan Province of China but declined marginally to Japan.

Imports

Compared with last year, 2016 cumulative imports during the January–June period in the USA, the single largest shrimp market, declined by 1.2 percent but increased in Japan (+7 percent), the EU (+17.8 percent), Russian Federation, (+44 percent), Australia (+4 percent) and South Africa (+15 percent).

Shrimp imports also increased in East Asia and the Near East markets, largely supplied by Asia as well as Ecuador.

Demand and price structures observed in the international shrimp market during the first quarter of the year persisted through June.

Japan

Stable yen and lower shrimp prices generated better demand for shrimp in the Japanese market during the first half of the year. Demand for the higher priced black tiger shrimp has also been strong, particularly in the Kansai region, although consumption still remains seasonal.

During January–June 2016, shrimp imports increased by 6.8 percent to total 92 700 tonnes in the market, in which 28 percent were high-value processed products such as tempura shrimp, cooked shrimp and sushi shrimp with rice. Thailand had a 42 percent share in this high-value shrimp market.

During the summer holiday months of July/August, consumer demand for shrimp increased for tempura shrimp for take-away lunch boxes and for peeled/cooked shrimp at family restaurant chains.

Industry sources continue to foresee salmon as a competitor for shrimp in the Japanese retail and catering trade, particularly in sushi shops and restaurants.

USA

After a disappointing first half of the year, consumer shrimp demand in the US market improved during the summer months due to stable wholesale prices. However, high inventory of shell-on shrimp resulted in lower imports of that product category (-5.7 percent) during the first half of this year compared with the same period last year.

Reportedly, there was a supply shortfall for the preferred individually quick frozen (IQF), easy-peel, shell-on shrimp from Indonesia during this period. Although imports of raw peeled shrimp increased by 5.8 percent, overall imports declined marginally (-1.2 percent) during January–June 2016 compared with the same period last year. Imports of breaded shrimp were lower than the same period in 2015.

Supplies into the USA declined from the top three sources namely Indonesia, Ecuador and India. However, the recovery in supplies from Thailand is noteworthy during the reporting period. Demand for black tiger shrimp has also been healthy during this period leading to higher supplies from Bangladesh.

EU

EU shrimp imports from non-member countries increased by 5.4 percent during the first half of 2016. Nearly 21 percent of extra-EU shrimp imports consisted of processed products from Viet Nam, Canada and Greenland.

The top import markets were Spain (60 900 tonnes), France (53 700 tonnes), Denmark (41 800 tonnes), the UK (36 000 tonnes) and Italy (32 000 tonnes). Imports increased in all of these markets except in Spain. There were also higher imports into Germany (24 600 tonnes).

In Eastern Europe, shrimp imports increased in the Russian Federation to 13 800 tonnes during January–June this year, which is 44 percent higher than the same period in 2015. This reflects a remarkable recovery after the disruption of shrimp trade at the start of the food embargo.

Traditionally, Denmark was the main supplier of shrimp to the Russian Federation, but this country is now cut out from the market. There was also significant import growth in Ukraine at 1 500 tonnes compared with 345 tonnes imported a year ago.

Asia and other markets

During the first half of 2016, shrimp imports into Viet Nam from the ten main suppliers reached nearly 145 000 tonnes, which is 38 percent higher than the same period in 2015. Notably, Viet Nam was the number one export destination for shrimp exports from Ecuador and Iran, second for India, third for Thailand and fourth for Indonesia. These supplies are then re-exported from Viet Nam with or without further processing.

According to official data in China, the market imported 55 100 tonnes of shrimp during January–June this year, which is nearly 64 percent higher than the same period last year. The top five suppliers were Argentina (13 600 tonnes), Canada (10 100 tonnes), Ecuador (9 300 tonnes) Thailand (6 400 tonnes) and India (3 700 tonnes). Imports increased from all of these sources. Reported imports from Viet Nam were only 1 500 tonnes during this period, as imports through border trade were possibly not included under this reporting.

The other Asian markets that bought more shrimp during January–June period were Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan Province of China and Singapore.

There were increased imports of shrimp in the United Arab Emirates from India (8 250 tonnes) during the review period and as well as to the neighboring Sri Lanka and Maldives from this source. Indian exports of fresh, air-flown, head-on vannamei has increased to the Gulf countries in the Near East, where this product is gaining popularity.

In the Pacific, shrimp imports increased into Australia and New Zealand by 4 percent and 23 percent at 13 400 and 2 200 tonnes respectively.

The report analyses the shrimp market situation over the period January-October 2016