At Osaka show, India promotes vannamei, Brunei pushes blue shrimp

Published on
February 25, 2015

An importer of Indian shrimp, Indo Marine Products Co., an importer of Indian shrimp based in Osaka, featured vannamei and flower shrimp at the recent Seafood and Technology Expo Osaka. Flower shrimp (Penaeus semisulcatus) is also known by the names “green tiger shrimp,” “hana-ebi,” “kuma-ebi,” and “ashiaka-ebi.” It has a clean refreshing taste and springy mouthfeel compared with vannamei.

It’s a signal of change in India’s shrimp industry, because atprevious shows, Indian suppliers have promoted large monodon (black tiger) shrimp as a specialty. But this year the focus was on mainline affordable shrimp.

J. Chentil Rajan, director of Indo Marine Products, said, “It’s all about price. Big shrimp go to Vietnam for value-added, and sell to the U.S. The Japanese go for cheaper prices.”

Managing Director Koichi Nakatani added that the Kansai Region (including Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto) was a better market than Tokyo for vannamei, or Pacific white shrimp. “People in Tokyo live far from their work, so they tend to eat out more. They buy a bento (box lunch) or go to an izakaya (drinking restaurant). In Osaka, people eat at home more.”

India took the No. 2 shrimp supplier spot (following Vietnam) in the Japan market during the 2014-15 fiscal year with 28,719 metric tons (MT) exported there. Early mortality syndrome (EMS) in Thailand has created a shrimp shortage and boosted prices, creating an opportunity for India’s industry to grow. The president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, Poj Aramwattananont, has predicted that a recovery in production would not come until the second quarter of 2015, extending the window of opportunity for its competitors.

India’s overdependence on vannamei may result in a glut and depressed prices when Thailand eventually recovers. Some diversification to other species, such as black tigers and flower shrimp, may help to prevent this. Both species usually fetch higher prices than vannamei. India’s black tiger production may get a boost from a facility opened in the Andaman Islands in March 2014 to domesticate and breed specific-pathogen free (SPF) broodstock, which would then be sent to multiplication centers and bred to supply the industry. Previous broodstock facilities on the mainland were infected with white-spot disease.

Dr. Ram Mohan, resident director for Japan, of India’s Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), who also manned a booth, said it’s unlikely that India will have the same problems with EMS that Thailand is experiencing, because the stocking rates are much lower in India than in Thailand. He said that the legal limit is 60 shrimp per square meter in the post-larvae stage, and that actual densities are typically only 45.

However, major vannamei production areas Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are currently suffering outbreaks of a new disease, Running Mortality Syndrome (RMS), believed to have been introduced by the use of local broodstock rather than imported SPF broodstock. The explosion in vannamei demand has pushed up the seed prices of SPF, which has led to producers trying to save money with cheaper stock.

Meanwhile, at the show, Yokohama-based Yokorei Group introduced blue shrimp (Litopenaeus stylirostris), organically farmed in Brunei Darussalam. The species is native to the Pacific coast of Latin America from Peru to Mexico and production is currently confined to Mexico in Latin America and to Brunei Darussalam in Asia. Its introduction to additional countries is hampered by concerns that non-SPF stock may carry Taura syndrome virus.  Blue shrimp grow faster than black tigers (Penaeus monodon) and can tolerate a wider range of temperatures than either black tigers or vannemei, which may allow better second crop growth, but is not as tolerant of low salinity or low oxygen levels.

Masanao Nishiura, assistant public relations manager for Yokorei, said that the company hopes to position the shrimp as a high-end product to compete with Japanese kuruma shrimp (Marsupenaeus japonicas) at high-class hotels and sushi restaurants, playing up the organic aspect to differentiate it.

The Seafood and Technology Expo Osaka was held 19 to 20 February. The show is held annually in both Tokyo and Osaka, in conjunction with the Agrifood Expo, a show featuring regional food specialties. The Tokyo show is in August. Attendance totaled 14,956 over the two days, up from 13,860 last year.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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