Buyers, producers predict 'soft' first quarter for Indonesian shrimp : February 3, 2016
But overall outlook for the year is ‘stable’ — despite weather-related disease issues.
Elisabeth Fischer : Intrafish
Buyers of Indonesian shrimp can expect a “soft” first quarter of the year with low production and higher prices, industry watchers told IntraFish.
After seeing a “very stable” supply last year, prices “surprisingly” shot up in November and December due to a long-lasting drought due to El Nino, which resulted in higher water salinity and disease issues, Pete Palma, president at California-based Certifresh, said.
Prices for larger sizes jumped around $1 per pound, while smaller sizes are now priced $0.60-$0.70 per pound higher than in the previous year, he told IntraFish.
“It’s pretty tough to get product at the moment,” Palma said. “Suppliers are producing but it’s very difficult to get raw material at the moment and prices are very high.”
Jim Gulkin, managing director at Siam Canadian, agreed, telling IntraFish “November to February was supposedly the peak season [in Indonesia], but it was not.”
Due to partial outbreaks of the parasitic disease Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP), issues with white feces and white spot syndrome, a number of farmers were reluctant to seed ponds “and these volumes are missing now,” he said.
These volumes are especially missing in West Java and Lampung due to “emergency harvests” earlier in the year, John Diener, managing director of the aqua division at Gold Coin, told IntraFish.
“It’s mainly weather-related problems, which will have a knock-on effect in the first quarter of the year. I expect it to be quite a soft quarter,” he said.
One executive at a major Indonesian shrimp supplier agreed, saying many in the industry are now expecting that “big volumes” will come in March and April.
He described the first half of 2015 as “quite challenging” due to El Nino and disease issues, but added things “turned around” with farmers changing their methods.
Farmers are “adapting well” to the adverse weather and water conditions.
“They are well funded by capital, they act and react quite fast and invest in new feed, broodstock, change the stocking density and farming methods, even after resting the ponds for a couple of months,” he told IntraFish.
He believes production grew by about 10 percent in 2015 and predicts it will remain stable or to slightly increase this year.
Reliable production figures, however, are difficult to obtain. Gulkin’s guess is at about 350,000 metric tons was produced in 2015.
“It won’t be significantly less this year because prices are still high and farmers will want to seed ponds,” Gulkin said.
Diener believes it could have been 300,000 metric tons or just below that for 2015, having grown by about 15,000-20,000 metric tons annually since the industry’s last big disease crisis in 2005-2006.
“That’s a sustainable pace,” he said. “I would much rather have Indonesia ticking along that kind of pace, rather than in India where it’s a complete mess this year.”
Current farmgate prices are good and have recovered from 2015, he said.
“Farmers are restocking the ponds a bit more confidently,” he told IntraFish.
Overall, industry executives are convinced it will be a relatively stable year for Indonesian shrimp producers — and buyers.
“It will be a bit of an uphill struggle this year but nothing major will impact production,” Gulkin said.
Palma described the current situation as “difficult” for buyers but said the country is “still competitive compared to other Asian countries.
“On the positive side the rainy season just started, stocking densities are lower and hopefully will give for a better and more stable harvest this year,” he said.
“By April we’re hoping to see and improvement in production and then maybe prices will come down. It’s definitely expensive to buy shrimp right now but it’s nothing compared to right after the EMS [Early Mortality Syndrome] crisis.”