U.S. shrimp imports slip in July

U.S. shrimp imports in the first 10 months of 2009 fell just shy of the 1-billion-pound mark, reaching 984.3 million  pounds, down 3.3 percent from the same period in 2008.

After rebounding in March, April, May and June, U.S. shrimp imports have dropped in each of the past four months. In October, they totaled 133 million pounds, down 7.8 percent from October 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported late last week.

U.S. shrimp imports typically peak in October, as retailers and restaurant operators load up for the winter holiday sales surge.

Amongst the top 10 suppliers to the U.S. market, shrimp imports from Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangladesh all declined significantly in October, ranging from a 37.8 percent drop (Vietnam) to a 53.4 percent drop (Malaysia).

Indonesia, last year’s No. 2 supplier, watched its shrimp exports to the U.S. market slide 39.5 percent in October, to 10.5 million pounds. In the first 10 months of this year, shrimp imports from the country were down 18.9 percent, to 133.1 million pounds.

As reported in the SeafoodSource market report in late October, it’s been a difficult year for Indonesia’s shrimp industry, which is experiencing production difficulties due mainly to a white spot virus outbreak. Some packers are unable to meet contract obligations and are forced to source raw material from outside the country.

However, shrimp imports from Thailand, last year’s No. 1 supplier, were up 9.9 percent in October, to 49 million pounds, while shrimp imports from Ecuador, the No. 3 supplier, were up 8.3 percent, to 8.5 million pounds.

In the first 10 months of this year, shrimp imports from Thailand and Ecuador are up 3.3 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.

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