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February 17, 2015

The World

Ecuador and India Supplying Vietnam and Thailand


Thai shrimp prices are rising amid very short supply because fewer farms are in production during the winter.  At least one large processor has turning to India for product.  This adds to the ongoing trend of Vietnamese packers buying from India, as both Thailand and Vietnam look to recover from their production losses caused by early mortality syndrome (EMS).  Unlike Vietnam, the Thai government has a very lengthy inspection process for imported shrimp, meaning packers don’t import unless they really have to.  Nonetheless, in February 2014, major packers like Thai Union Frozen Products imported shrimp from India to cover their needs last year.  A Thai Union spokeswoman said the company does not plan on buying from India in 2015.


In recent weeks, Indian raw material prices have been propped up by demand from Vietnam, for sale to China and also for re-processing.  Indian prices are currently much lower than those in Thailand.  For 70 count, head-on shrimp, the current price in Thailand is around $6.19 a kilo, whereas the same size in India is $4.49 a kilo.


A shrimp supplier in Ecuador, where prices are dropping, said there have been inquiries from Thai packers.


In Thailand, every packer just wants to be able to secure some raw material to run through its plant, said Satasap Viriyanantawanit, general manager for Thailand with the Siam Canadian Group, a Bangkok-based, pan-Asian frozen seafood supplier.  “Shrimp supply is extremely short at this moment, even though there are very few existing orders on the books of Thai shrimp processors.”  Although Viriyanantawanit said he was not aware of any Thai processors buying from India, although it would not surprise him, considering the raw material situation.  Some plants do have commitments and pending orders and are having to “compete and fight with each other to obtain even just a tiny amount of run through their plant”, he said.


Prices for raw whole shrimp in Thailand have risen sharply since the start of the year.


For 60-count-per-kilo raw shrimp, prices were $6.29 to $6.43 a kilo during the week of February 9-14, 2015, compared to $5.68 during the week of January 12-17, 2015.


Similarly, prices for 70 count-per-kilo raw shrimp were $5.98 to $6.29 from February 9-14, 2015, compared to $5.52 to $5.61 from January 12-17, 2015.


For 80 count, prices were $5.92 to $5.99 from February 9-14, 2015, compared to $4.85 to $5.03 from January 12-17, 2015.


“We expect that supply will be improving around late March or early April, starting with small sizes,” said Viriyanantawanit.  It is not a case of farmers holding back supply to keep prices up, he said.  Since Thailand has been suffering from EMS, shrimp prices are not the number one priority for farmers, “Survival at the highest possible density has become a much higher priority.”


Thai shrimp farmers just want to be able to farm as much as they can, that is their focus, said Chaiwaruth Arunsopha, who’s family owns processor Tey Seng Cold Storage and shrimp farms in Trat Province, in eastern Thailand close to the Cambodian boarder.  “They don’t care much about the price at this moment.  Frankly, all they care about is 100% survival of their shrimp,” said Arunsopha.


In India, whole Penaeus vannamei prices for the week starting February 9, 2015, rebounded $0.16 to $0.32 across all sizes.  Prices for 50-count whole shrimp were at $5.63, 60-count at $4.99 and 70-count at $4.63.


Even though prices have firmed somewhat, they are still way off the levels seen last year.  In September last year, prices for 50-count whole shrimp were $7.24, 60-count at $6.11 and 70-count at $5.47.


This current slight uptick in prices, according to Chaipat Kunapiwatkul, business development manager with Siam Canadian, is largely due to demand from Vietnam.  “It seems that several packers are getting active in purchasing for the Vietnam market again.  From what we heard, the purchasing volume for China and Vietnam is likely to increase after the Chinese New Year because there has been speculation about a shortage of shrimp in China by March.  As a result the demand for shrimp is likely to go up.”


Vietnamese processors are buying block frozen, grade-A, shell-on tails and reprocessing them as value-added products for export to the USA, EU and some to Japan.


Vietnam still struggles with EMS and has other problems with its shrimp farming system and may be importing as much as 30% of its total production.  It sounds like 2015 will not be a very promising year for shrimp farming in Vietnam, so importing raw material is a way for it to maintain exports.


Minh Phu Seafood, the largest Vietnamese processor, may have imported as many as 500 containers from India in 2014.


The seasonal situation in India means there will not be shrimp available in any volume until May.


India may currently be a source for other Asian countries with raw material problems, but it has its own problems with disease.


Source: Peace and Freedom: Policy and World Ideas.  Vietnam, Thailand Look To India, Ecuador As Possible Suppliers of Shrimp During Shortage.  Tom Seaman (  February 16, 2015.

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