Indian exporters growing more concerned about coronavirus trade fallout

Published on
March 10, 2020

Seafood exporters in India are beginning to fear the COVID-19 outbreak may affect demand for the country’s seafood.

Shaji Baby John, chairman of Kings Group, a leading seafood exporting company in Kochi, India, echoed statements from India’s Marine Products Export Development Authority last week, saying the pandemic was not likely to have any adverse impact on seafood exports, The Hindu BusinessLine reported on 5 March.

“Right now, the issue is not serious. But we are keeping our fingers crossed. Since it is spreading across nations, there is definitely a reason for anxiety as it will hinder shipments,” Shaji said.

Baby John said his company is still planning on a seasonal rise in demand for seafood in the United States and Europe as the Northern Hemisphere enters spring and summer, but said his team is proceeding with more caution than before.

“There is definitely a concern with the virus threat spreading to more nations, as it could dampen the purchasing power of people in the affected areas,” Baby John said.

The outbreak has led Indian shrimp farmers to be more cautious about their stocking plans, former president of the All India Shrimp Hatcheries Association Lakkaraju Satyanarain said.

The farm-gate price of shrimp in India was INR 385 (USD 5.20, EUR 4.60) per kilogram of 40 count by the end of February, 4.1 percent higher than INR 370 (USD 5.00, EUR 4.40) per kilogram in the first week of February, Lakkaraju said. He was skeptical that prices would continue to rise amid mounting fears over the coronavirus.

Local farmers were also worried about the crop, which was begun in January and is due to be harvested between April and May this year, Lakkaraju said.

Meanwhile, data has indicated that India’s shrimp exports slowed down month-over-month in January, when China officially announced the outbreak of the deadly virus.

India exported 40,510 metric tons (MT) of shrimp in January, an increase of 6.4 percent year-on-year, but down 35.6 percent from December 2019.

Photo courtesy of Funtay/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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