US shrimp demand grows sluggish : December 12, 2016
However, there are mixed reviews on how demand is faring in foodservice and retail.
Kim Tran – INTRAFISH
There are mixed reactions among industry experts on how US shrimp demand is faring, but consensus is there is a general softness in the market.
“I think it’s been steady for the most part of the year,” one Indian shrimp industry expert told IntraFish. “The last few weeks it seems to be slowing down. A lot of buyers are saying that things have been slower than what it was this time last year.
“Foodservice has been good, but in retail we need to look at more promotions,” he said.
On the other hand, another long-time seafood exec told IntraFish he’s seen foodservice and everyday wholesale “very quiet recently.”
“I’m not sure what’s going on,” he said.
His company works with a lot of retailers, many of whom bought their shrimp months ago.
“Most of them ordered more than they did last year and some are even buying more for after New Year’s,” he said.
Jim Gulkin, managing director at shrimp supplier Siam Canadian, predicted a reason behind the recent slump.
“Demand and consumption in the US market has been good for most of the year, but I think it started to slow down now,” he said. “The US market has become rather sluggish recently in the past 30-40 days.”
He told IntraFish good sales earlier in the year may have built up US inventory and “prices haven’t moved to match rising prices from the countries of Asian origin. Right now there’s a disconnect where US prices are lower than what people are selling for from Asia.”
Overall US shrimp imports grew by 4 and 3 percent in volume and value, respectively, in the first 10 months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to the most recent statistics released by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
“Prices overseas are moving up and we’ve moved our prices up,” the veteran seafood exec said.
“We’re coming into one of those lulls in production in Asia. Thailand is at a low point and India is going through production issues. Most don’t start again until April or May so there will be lower production for the next 90-120 days and people are paying the higher prices.”
Last month, his company’s selling price to retailers and wholesalers averaged $4.81 (€4.47) for all shrimp sizes, up $0.10 (€0.09) from last year.
Gulkin added some importers are concerned prices are going to go down in the new year and while he feels “there are no indications that this will happen, they are still cautious.”
The Indian shrimp expert told IntraFish most of his company’s supply of shrimp for the United States comes from, naturally, India, which is seeing about the same production level as the year prior.
“As for prices, China and Vietnam are buying more and keeping the price stable,” he added. “There’s been strong demand from those countries.”
Jose Antonio Camposano, head of Cámara Nacional de Acuacultura (National Chamber of Aquaculture) in Ecuador, said the US market is very competitive in terms of pricing.
“It’s difficult to match the prices of other shrimp,” he told IntraFish.
The US market accounts for about 20 percent of Ecuador’s current production. Ecuador is currently the No. 3 shrimp supplier to the United States after India and Indonesia and “we’re fighting to get a lot more market share. We also use the same currency, the US dollar, and it’s hard to compete with other countries who can depreciate their currencies.”
Camposano said the November election should not impact Ecuador’s shrimp exports to the United States due to the importance of this particular export product.
“When the US lowered to a zero import tax for shrimp, they did it for all shrimp importing countries. I don’t think Trump will impact much because the United States imports more than 90 percent of the seafood it eats and shrimp is one of the major seafood the US consumes,” he said.