Boston shrimp talk focused on the ‘two Ds’ : March 12, 2013
Tom Seaman – Undercurrentnews.com
Disease and duties are the focus of the shrimp business for the Boston seafood show, said Jim Gulkin, managing director of Siam Canadian Group.
“The ‘two ds’ are what everyone is talking about,” Gulkin, at the Boston seafood show with his team from China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, told Undercurrent News.
However, one of the two Ds seems to be getting more airtime than the other.
The story of the countervailing duty investigation against the seven major shrimp exporting nations to the US would normally have been the major talking point, said Gulkin.
“Disease has eclipsed it,” he said, with the situation in Thailand with early mortality syndrome (EMS) being the big talking point. EMS is also hitting production in Vietnam.
Thai production could take a hit of over 45%-50% on 2012 in H1, sources have suggested. Thai Union Frozen Products suggested raw material availability is going to be poor in the first half, with prices high, as a result.
Gulkin said the situation is bad, but “we will see if we [Siam Canadian is headquartered in Bangkok] can make it up in the second half”, he told Undercurrent. Thai processors have been force to cut back to a three-day working week, as prices are so high and raw material scarce.
EMS was a big talking point at the mini-GOAL event at Boston, hosted by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.
A lot of progress has been done on identifying the cause for early mortality syndrome (EMS), the disease that is decimating shrimp production in Asia, said George Chamberlain, the president of the GAA.
At this stage it’s just “a matter of time” before the cause is found, said Chamberlin, speaking at a mini-GOAL conference at the Boston seafood show on Monday.
With prices of shrimp steadily increasing expected to increase even further in the coming months, buyers have been holding off on orders — fuelling speculation over who will budge first, said show attendees.
Travis Larkin, director of the importer Seafood Exchange, said such a standoff had not been seen since 1999, when whitespot disease decimated shrimp production.
“The real challenge is the lack of replacement products,” Larkin told Undercurrent. “It will be a white-knuckle year.”
The impact on contracts and sales will depend on “everyone’s breaking point”, he said.