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April 26, 2013

The Bubble in Shrimp Prices

EMS and Other Factors Affect Shrimp Prices


At the European Seafood Expo in Brussels (April 23-25, 2013), Anton Churakov, shrimp purchasing manager for Agama in Russian, said shrimp harvests in China were very poor and demand was increased.  He also said that talk of the new bird flu strain was boosting the demand for seafood at the expense of chicken.  “There is some harvest in the south, but it’s very limited.  The demand is so high that there is not enough for packers.”


Churakov said it was unclear exactly what was causing China’s problems.  “There is talk of disease, but it’s not clear whether it’s EMS, or whitespot syndrome, or something else,” adding that since every region operates autonomously, it’s difficult to get a clear picture of the market.


According to Vietnamese media, Chinese packers have been travelling to Vietnam to purchase farmed shrimp directly from farmers.


The shortage of shrimp in Asia means suppliers are selling on the spot market, with no one willing to sign contracts, said Churakov.  He says shrimp prices in China are up 25-30% from last year—and still climbing.


With Russian customers unwilling to accept higher prices, the market is in a bit of a limbo, with both buyers and sellers sitting on the fence, said Churakov.


Prices of Penaeus vannamei and P. monodon throughout Southeast Asia have been affected by the shortages.  In Thailand, farm-gate prices for 60 count whole shrimp reached $6.90 per kilo in April 2013.  That’s a 72% increase from April 2012, and up 5% up since this March 2013.


An executive with a large European shrimp importer, which sources shrimp from Ecuador, painted a different picture.  “With the summer ahead.  I would say buyers are securing their material right now.  If you are able to get your hands on a container, you are likely to buy two right away.”  He confirmed that prices were up and still rising, saying that it was due to EMS, but also to the “Pescanova effect”.  The insolvency of Pescanova, which processes and exports shrimp from Ecuador through Promarisco, has pushed prices from Ecuador up by around $1.95 a kilo.  Promarisco’s volumes have been steadily dropping over the past few months. Once the biggest shrimp exporter in Ecuador, Promarisco only exported 2.17 million pounds in March 2013—barely a fifth of its processing capacity.  The European importer thinks prices are at risk of becoming too high.  “We’re in a bubble in shrimp right now.  ...Sellers are trying to sell for too much.  ...Prices can’t go up much more, people will find substitutes,” he said.  “As soon as production in Thailand gets back to normal, and as soon as the Pescanova situation settles, prices will drop again.”


Source: Undercurrent News.  Editor, Tom Seaman (  China Shortage Ups Pressure on Shrimp Prices.  Eva Tallaksen (  April 25, 2013.


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