India shrimp packers struggle to meet demand for small sizes : June 19, 2015
Tom Seaman – UNDERCURRENT NEWS
Prices for vannamei shrimp raw material in India are steady at a low level, with demand strongest on the smaller sizes, sources told Undercurrent News.
There is an issue, however, in getting these sizes in the necessary volume.
“The main issue in India seems to be the shortage of small sizes, 60 counts and smaller,” said Chaipat Kunapiwatkul, business development manager with Siam Canadian Group, a Bangkok, Thailand-based frozen seafood supplier.
“Those sizes are currently in great demand from China and Vietnam but the packers are struggling to procure the raw material,” he told Undercurrent. “The only chance for farmers to harvest smaller sizes anytime soon would come only if they foresee that there would be a heavy monsoon. Otherwise they will be waiting for shrimps to grow.”
Major landing is now focused on 30, 40, and some 50 counts per kilogram shrimp, the large sizes, he said.
“Indian farmers usually concentrates on harvesting the shrimp with large sizes unless here are some problems with crops which force them to do early harvest. It’s always their mentality,” he said.
The reason should be that there is always a significant gap between large and medium and small sizes. For example, the difference between 40 counts and 60 counts are around INR 100- INR 110. So they prefer to wait a bit longer to earn some more,” said Kunapiwatkul.
An executive with an Indian shrimp processor, not wishing to be quoted by name, confirmed this picture.
Processors could get more of these sizes during crisis and partial harvest from farmers, due to disease problems, he said.
The focus of the farmers, however, is to try and grow the large sizes. “Due to other disease problems this year most of the farmers could not cross 20 count, so we are expecting a huge demand for big sizes like 21/25 up in near future,” he told Undercurrent.
This might be somewhat hopeful, according to Kunapiwatkul.
“The packers are anticipating more inquiries from North America and Europe since those markets generally use more of larger sizes. However, in reality, the demand from those markets still remain quite gloomy,” he said.
The focus on smaller sizes was also mentioned in an article in the Economic Times.
“Globally the buyers are going for smaller sizes which cost less. This seems to be the new trend across the US, Europe and Japan. While Europe is yet to come out fully from recession, increased health awareness is forcing the US consumers to buy smaller size shrimps,” said Kamlesh Gupta, founder chairman of West Coast Fine Foods, a processor and exporter who also operates farms.
Production recovery amid weak market
Undercurrent sources in Europe and the US have painted a picture of the weak demand in both regions.
Stocks are said to be high in the US, with the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro a big obstacle for sale to Europe. For Japan, the weakness of the yen compared to the dollar is also an issue for sale.
Shrimp production looks set to increase more in 2015, after a recovery from 2014, the year in which early mortality syndrome had a big impact on production.