Gulkin: Indian shrimp sales to EU have fallen, with US, Vietnam picking up slack : Jan 10, 2018
Neil Ramsden : Undercurrentnews
Following the EU’s announcement that it would send a team to audit India’s shrimp processing and export sector late in 2017, sales from the latter to the former have fallen.
This is according to Jim Gulkin, CEO of seafood trader Siam Canadian Group, who told Undercurrent News he had seen “decreased purchasing from India” of late.
In October 2017 he had warned that an EU ban or other severe restrictions to curtail trade from India would cause a domino effect on the industry. This in turn may have seen India “totally pivot to the US market”, and increase sales as much as it possibly could to Vietnam and China too, he said.
Even before the EU’s inspection team headed out to India, UK retail and foodservice buyers began requesting a shift away from sourcing farmed Indian shrimp, said Big Prawn Co managing director Will Rash, at the Global Outlook for Aquaculture Leadership (GOAL) conference in Dublin, Ireland.
Speaking in January 2018, Gulkin said he had seen that far fewer Indian processors were willing to “take the risk to ship to the EU, so the field is much narrower in terms of exports”.
“Vietnam, as I previously anticipated, was the country to pick up most of the slack,” he added.
Indian shrimp exports to the US have also “definitely increased”, he said.
“India has been very competitive price-wise and Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam have struggled to keep pace.”
However, over the past six-to-eight weeks, Indonesia has dropped its prices, prompting exports from there to the US to increase.
“I feel no reluctance at this stage from US importers and end users in terms of India product. Broadly speaking, the US market tends to fly by the seat of its pants and is more reactive than proactive in terms coming up against potential problems,” he added.
At the aforementioned GOAL conference there had been some concern on the part of US importers/ buyers that the Food and Drug Administration might align itself with the EU in putting Indian imports under stricter regulation. This does not seem to have affected US imports thus far, though.
Recent National Marine Fisheries Service data showed that India shipped 40% more shrimp to the US between January and November 2017 than the same period of 2016, when the US had imported only 139,641t.
Total value of India’s 2017 sales to the US in those months was $1.97 billion, up from $1.35bn for the same period of 2016.
Positive outlook for India
Gulkin doesn’t think the EU’s inspection of Indian processors is going to lead to any serious trade regulations, however.
“I think the EU authorities will largely give India a pass so India exports to the EU will pick up again,” he told Undercurrent.
Durai Balasubramanian — secretary of the Pattukottai Shrimp Farmers Association in Tamil Nadu — agreed, telling Undercurrent he had he inspection had found no issues and that the EU would continue to purchase shrimp from India.
“India exports to EU are reduced, but still maintaining a steady pace,” added a source buying India shrimp. “I know a few companies who had been focusing more on the EU than US, in spite of increased rate of inspections.”
He said he didn’t think any weakness in EU purchasing was down to the inspections; “many were expecting this correction due to increased imports by US buyers.”
Indian media recently reported that the EU had ruled out the imposition of any fresh restrictions on Indian shrimp exports to European markets.
There were problems identified with primary production – monitoring of farms and farm inputs – and the Indian authorities are expected to deal with them over the next few months, Business Insider reported.
In addition, a recent addition of the newsletter “Ken’s Catch”, by Ken Salzinger, claimed Indian exporters said the EU inspectors who examined India’s procedures for checking on antibiotic residues in its shrimp exports ruled out any new import restrictions.
“It appears that the 50% inspection level on all Indian shrimp imports will remain in effect. In addition, there is still the question of bad press, which led up to the inspectors going over in the first place. With other countries forging trade pacts with the European Union—like Ecuador, Vietnam and Indonesia—India may lose some of its market share.”