Indian shrimp prices to tick up through December : Dec 13, 2017
Neil Ramsden : Undercurrentnews
The majority of Indian shrimp packers are anticipating an increase in vannamei raw material prices through to the end of the year, a trader told Undercurrent News.
Shrimp harvests are coming to a close in India now, and while supplies are likely to remain low in December, demand — especially the US market — also seems fairly quiet, the trader said. “Still, most packers expect the price to move up a bit in the next few weeks.”
This suggests the situation summarized by Siam Canadian Group, in a market update in November, has continued. That month, the company noted US demand for Indian shrimp had slowed, but raw material prices were mainly firm due to full sales books.
Shrimp prices in India have been relatively stable over the fall and winter period, though speaking on Dec. 11 the trader said there had been some volatility that week.
He cited increases of as much as INR 20 ($0.31) per kilogram on 30, 50, 60 and 70 counts, while other sizes were stable.
Prices in November dipped slightly before recovering at the beginning of December. The trader cited prices of INR 440 per kilogram for 30 count head-on, shell-on; INR 360 for 50 count; INR 295 for 70; and INR 255 for 90. For the full range of prices see Undercurrent’s prices portal.
The main reason for the rises seems to be that farmers in Orissa and Kolkata are down to roughly the last 10% of harvests for the year, with the limited supplies reserved for those packers to aid farmers with feed costs, he said.
“Basically, the supply in these states will be finished around Christmas time,” he added.
In Andhra Pradesh, meanwhile, landings are predominantly mid-range sizes, with the largest shrimp in short supply.
The trader also said there was some availability out of parts of Tamil Nadu, though these tended to be small shrimp as well. “Generally prices for finished products from packers [here] is 20-30 cents higher than the market price, but some buyers are still willing to pay for the few brands based there,” he said.
Looking ahead, Durai Balasubramanian — secretary of the Pattukottai Shrimp Farmers Association in Tamil Nadu — told Undercurrent he expects raw material availability to be lower year-on-year until March 2018.
“Indian aquaculture in 2017 kickstarted very well, for the first half of the year. After August so many problems arose. Survival of ponds has been much less.”
Growth has been stunted and some areas have been hit with white spot virus, he said. “Growing vannamei has become very difficult, especially in Tamil Nadu. Slow growth is the main driver, showing less output. 2018 is going to be very difficult year for India to maintain its output,” he suggested.
The country is reliant on the performance of the specific pathogen free broodstock being imported, he said.
Estimated production figures presented at the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s annual Global Outlook for Aquaculture Leadership earlier this year had Indian output rising in 2017, 2018 and 2019; only slowing in its rate of growth slightly.
“I just don’t understand how are they calculating production,” said Balasubramanian. “No-one really knows what we are producing every year because aquaculture in India is widespread, and production figures, I feel, are down this year.”
He cited the fact that prices have been relatively strong for the past two years as evidence that in fact production is not growing all that strongly.
The industry still awaits news on the EU’s inspection of Indian processing plants.
The Indian — and indeed global — shrimp sectors are holding their breath while they await a decision from the European Union on whether it will take measures against perceived health risks of Indian shrimp imports, Siam Canadian CEO Jim Gulkin noted earlier this year.
“If there is an outright ban, or other severe restrictions placed that could drastically curtail India shipments to the EU, there will be a domino effect on the industry,” he said.
The visit is a routine one, a source stressed to Undercurrent, and should result in a report which will be made available in January.