Black tiger market turns the corner
By Steven Hedlund, SeafoodSource editor
10 April, 2009 -
Figures released by the National Marine Fisheries Service in March confirmed what shrimp traders already knew - 2009 is off to a tepid start.
Overall, U.S. shrimp imports tumbled 13.2 percent in January, to 93.4 million pounds, after finishing 2008 up 1.3 percent, to 1.24 billion pounds.
For black tigers, import figures were mixed. In January, imports from India and Bangladesh were up 19.1 percent and 1 percent, respectively, while imports from Vietnam and Indonesia were down 37.5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively. The bulk of the U.S. tiger supply originates from these four countries.
But import figures don't tell the entire story. Demand for shrimp is also weak in Europe and Japan, and the U.S. dollar is appreciating, making the United States an increasingly attractive market for Asian and Latin American shrimp producers.
Tightening tiger supplies are driving up prices. After bottoming out in December and January, prices began to inch up in February and were still climbing through mid-March.
Headless, shell-on, commodity-grade tigers were quoted in the low-$7 range for U12s, high-$5 range for U15s, high-$4 range for 16-20s, high-$3 range for 21-25s and mid-$3 range for 26-30s and 31-40s. In mid-March, prices of larger sizes were holding firm, while prices of smaller sizes (16-20s and down) were trending upward.
Due to the recession, shrimp buyers are fixed on finding value, and that's not expected to change anytime soon.
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