Floods threaten Thailand’s shrimp production
By Steven Hedlund, SeafoodSource editor
04 November, 2011 -
In early August, the Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA) predicted that Thailand’s shrimp exports would fall 7 percent this year, to roughly 380,000 metric tons, due to a production shortfall stemming mainly from floods that paralyzed the southern part of the country in late March and early April.
Then, in late July, the floods returned, and now they’re hampering the central part of the country, including Bangkok, Thailand’s economic hub. The country is experiencing its worst floods in more than 50 years due to a volatile monsoon season; 26 of Thailand’s 77 provinces are inundated by floodwaters. So the TFFA may need to readjust its shrimp-export forecast for 2011.
One Bangkok-based shrimp exporter reported in early October that raw material prices are already moving up in anticipation of flood damage to shrimp farms.
Raw material was already “very short” when the floods worsened in mid-October, according to one industry veteran. “Large sizes from 16/20 to 26/30 have been cleaned up and are not available; 41/50 and smaller sizes are available but at prices that are not workable as they are at or above market prices,” he said in mid-August. “Some packers tell us they are still processing orders for the holidays, and this will continue into October.”
But, by mid-October, big U.S. shrimp buyers had wrapped up their orders of Pacific white shrimp from Asia for delivery by the holidays, turning their attention to Pacific whites from Latin America and Gulf shrimp, according to one player in the Northeast.
“Some corporate buyers have stepped up and made part or all of their wild Gulf shrimp buys for the holidays. Others are waiting and hoping for prices to fall,” he said. “The downside risk appears minimal from now until early December. After that, all bets are off. It all depends on how aggressive retailers get with shrimp promotions in December and how consumers spend on shrimp for the holidays.”
But, for the world’s No. 1 shrimp exporter and America’s No. 1 shrimp supplier, only time will tell just how damaging the floods will be. Through the first eight months of 2011, U.S. shrimp imports from Thailand were down 4.2 percent, to 246.8 million pounds, according to figures the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service released on Oct. 13. However, overall U.S. shrimp imports were still on track to top 2010’s total of 1.23 billion pounds, up 3.5 percent, to almost 757 million pounds through August. Shrimp imports from Vietnam, Indonesia and especially India are up significantly this year.
In mid-October in the U.S. market, Asian-raised Pacific whites were quoted in the mid- to high-USD 5 range for 16-20s, high-USD 4 range for 21-25s, mid-USD 4 range for 26-30s, high-USD 3 range for 31-35s and 36-40s and mid- to high-USD 3 range for 41-50s.
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