The farmed shrimp market is struggling as a result of lack of demand.
Everywhere you look — the United States, European Union or Japan — the farmed shrimp market is depressed, the result of an unfavorable economic climate.
After increasing 6 percent in September and 10 percent in October, U.S. shrimp imports fell 5 percent in November, to 117.6 million pounds. December doesn’t look promising, and 2008 may mark the second consecutive drop in annual U.S. shrimp imports. But through November, they were still up 1.5 percent, to nearly 1.14 billion pounds.
The problem, says one shrimp industry veteran, lies with demand, not supply.
“There is no shortage of shrimp, just customers,” he explains. “Consumer spending or lack thereof is the root of our demand problems, and this should continue through much of 2009.”
Pacific white shrimp prices leveled off in the United States in December and January after falling sharply from August’s record highs. By mid-January, shell-on, head-off 41-50s were quoted in the mid-USD 2 range, 36-40s in the high-USD 2 range, 31-35s in the low-USD 3 range, 26-30s in the mid-USD 3 range and 21-25s in the high-USD 3 range.
Asian shrimp producers are under pressure to keep prices down and are reacting by curbing output or expanding the domestic market for shrimp, where they can fetch higher prices.
No one knows for certain when demand will catch up to supply. But it’s probably going to be a while, and in the meantime plenty of bargains will be available.