Thailand makes shrimp quality a priority


Steven Hedlund

Published on
March 15, 2010

Thailand exports nearly 400,000 metric tons of shrimp annually, making it the world’s largest shrimp exporter. But it’s the quality of the product, not the quantity, that a delegation of Thai officials highlighted at the International Boston Seafood Show on Monday.

Thailand is promoting the lengths to which the government and the industry go to ensure the quality of its shrimp, said Dr. Nanthiya Unprasert, deputy director general of Thailand’s Department of Fisheries, and Waraporn Prompoj, director of Thailand’s Fisheries Foreign Affairs Division.

The government is working with the industry to make food safety, environmental and social responsibility, animal welfare and traceability a priority among shrimp farmers and processors, they explained.

For example, farmers that raise shrimp bound for export are required to be certified by Thailand’s Department of Fisheries according to its Good Aquaculture Practices and Code of Conduct for Responsible Shrimp Aquaculture, both of which are based on international standards like the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsibility Fisheries and the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14001 system.

Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration selected Thailand to participate in its pilot program for third-party certification of imported farmed shrimp, and the agency continues to work with Thailand to design inspection procedures similar to those in the United States and develop training for Thai inspectors. Under this arrangement, Thai shrimp inspected and approved by Thai officials would be pre-qualified to enter the United States.

Thailand is also ramping up production of tilapia and pangasius, said Dr. Panisuan Jamnarnwej, president of the Thai Frozen Food Association. Currently, production is minimal compared to China (tilapia) and Vietnam (pangasius) — much of the tilapia and pangasius Thailand raises is consumed domestically.

But Thailand expects to increase its tilapia production to 300,000 metric tons in the next three years, he said.

More coverage of the 2010 International Boston Seafood Show >

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