Thai block on Indian, Malaysian shrimp ‘hurts Thailand most of all’ : Dec 12, 2017
Neil Ramsden : Undercurrentnews
Global shrimp trader Siam Canadian has confirmed to Undercurrent News that Thailand has stopped importing farmed shrimp from India — as well as Malaysia.
Thai authorities have justified the move by stating the Indian imports risked spreading infectious mionecrosis virus (IMNV), and until further notice the department of fisheries intends to prevent shrimp from here, and Malaysia, entering the country, said Satasap Viriyanantawanit, Siam Canadian’s general manager in Thailand.
“Honestly speaking, I am afraid it is hurting Thailand more than India. I do not support the idea of bringing shrimp from other sources for reprocessing and re-export, however, the matter of fact is Thailand do not have enough supply.”
“Several Thai packers must be scrambling to get enough raw material to meet their break-even,” he suggested.
The Chinese market has become “very aggressive”, he noted. He cited a shrimp broker familiar to the firm that has seen import volume grow 500% year-on-year in 2017.
“Thailand shrimp has become very famous in China. Demands have always been very strong, all year round.” Some brokers based in Thailand and selling to China have also moved from handling fruits to shrimp, he noted.
On top of this, Thai domestic demand is growing too, he said. “There might be less than 50% production for packers to reprocess and export.”
Thai Union Group identifies Vietnam as the third-largest market for Thailand; Viriyanantawanit believes much of this will make its way to China as a final destination too.
“If Thailand allow imported shrimp, it will likely help Thai packers to have some option. For the moment, they do not have any option but to live with local shrimp (which is not enough, and more expensive than Indonesia and India),” he concluded.
China’s own shrimp farmers failed to shrug off disease outbreaks early on in the season, and overall production is estimated to be down in 2017.
Before China’s shrimp season even began a foreboding took hold in the industry about poor quality broodstock. Then, as Undercurrent reported in June, these worries bore out with disease prevalent during the early stages of shrimp grow-out, particularly in the country’s south.
The demands of the Chinese markets have been growing ever stronger in 2017, as remarked upon across multiple species.
High Liner Foods-owned shrimp firm Rubicon Resources recently noted China has been shaking up the global market.
Thanks to its own falling production, ability to offer attractive payment terms and growing consumption, China is entering — and sometimes dominating — shrimp markets around the world, it said
“With cash in hand, Chinese buyers are entering neighboring Southeast Asian countries to directly source massive quantities of shrimp, outcompeting most Western buyers,” it said. It said buyers often buy whole ponds of shrimp at the farm.
“Seafood has always been a large part of Chinese food culture, but a rapidly expanding middle class is taking Chinese shrimp consumption to new heights. Between 2005 and 2015, shrimp consumption in China increased by 123% to over 1.6 million metric tons per year.”
China’s buying strength is being felt on the coldwater shrimp side too.
“I’ve been told Chinese demand is such that it’s pushing prices up, on all sorts of shellfish. A growing China market is what concerns me, with demand there rising,” one source with a shrimp processor noted.
At 2017’s International Coldwater Prawn Forum there was a good amount of talk about China; Fan Xubing, general manager of Beijing Seabridge Marketing, seemed to be the sole representative of the Chinese market, but said he expected this to have changed by the next event.
Royal Greenland CEO Mikael Thinghuus acknowledged the growth of the market there. “I think before my generation retires we’ll see live North Atlantic prawns being shipped to China. I think the industry’s done well at diversifying away from our ‘safe’ markets and looking perhaps for where consumers are willing to pay a higher price.”