Chinese shrimp brokers start buying ‘aggressively’ in Thailand : June 21, 2017
Tom Seaman : Undercurrentnews
Chinese shrimp brokers are buying aggressively in Thailand, which suggests their own production is not strong, an industry source told Undercurrent News.
In 2016, Chinese brokers were “quite aggressive in buying for the first nine months of the year in Thailand, until prices rocketed up and they switched attention to India”, said Satasap Viriyanantawani, who runs the Thai business of frozen seafood supplier Siam Canadian Group.
This year, “Chinese brokers have recently bought very aggressively, and some of them are offering to pay any prices in order to obtain their desired sizes. This is jeopardizing our situation”, he said.
“I believe the reason that Chinese brokers are coming late this year is because our [Thai] prices may have been too expensive, and also they may have expected good production from their local shrimp, but [this] failed,” he told Undercurrent.
The level for the week of June 12-17 for Thai shrimp raw material was THB 170-175 per kilogram for 60 pieces per kg; THB 165-170/kg for 70 count; and THB 155/160/kg for 80 count. This is an increase from the start of April, but down from the start of the year (see below from the Undercurrent prices portal).
During the recent Thaifex trade show in the Thai capital, other shrimp sources said Chinese buyers had been active in other South East Asian countries.Chinese buyers are looking to Thailand for vannamei shrimp, but also for black tiger in Vietnam, sources said.
“It’s a mad rush for material,” said Eric Ng, general manager at Singaporean firm PineTree, which processes black tiger shrimp at its plant in Vietnam, speaking to Undercurrent during Thaifex.
“We wanted to do more [production] but there is not enough raw material,” Ng said. “We are fighting China for raw material. It’s a big problem.”
Supply from Thailand up
During Thaifex, Thai industry sources said they expected production to increase in 2017, but not as much as was expected at the start of the year.
“It looks like we have good supplies. However, shrimp farmers are getting too strong and whenever they see [a] price drop, they simply stop harvesting,” Siam Canadian’s Viriyanantawani told Undercurrent. “They can hold back on supplies just for a few days and it will immediately impact overall shrimp prices.”
Life will be hard for Thai packers this year, if this continues, he said.
This, and the arrival of Chinese buyers, is “killing Thai shrimp exporters”, he said. “Thailand will have to compete with other countries. India, Indonesia and Vietnam. The cost from other countries is generally lower than Thailand.”
As a result, Thai shrimp exporters have to accept losses in order to get new orders. “They have a high cost, low selling price. It does not sound very healthy,” he said.
More shrimp will be coming in the second half of the year, which should improve the situation for packers.
During Thaifex, Thai producers said they plan to increase their shrimp output in the second half, after output from farms dropped year-on-year in the first two quarters of 2017.
Heavy rain, which has caused floods in several provinces, as well as ongoing disease issues, limited the growth of Thai shrimp production in the first half of this year, Thai Union Group’s shrimp unit managing director, Preerasak Boonmechote, told Undercurrent during a recent visit to the firm’s processing plant near Bangkok, before Thaifex.
Thai shrimp production is expected to grow 5% overall this year, lower than earlier expectations of 10-15% output growth, Boonmechote said, pointing to the fact that heavy rain had limited the country’s production growth plan. According to Thai Union’s estimates, the country’s production in 2016 was about 250,000t.