Thai Shrimp Association: Supply rebounding but future growth will be gradual

Published on
September 28, 2017

Thailand is projecting a 10 to 20 percent rise in farmed shrimp output in 2017, according to Somsak Paneetatayasai, chair of the Thai Shrimp Association. 

Addressing a visiting U.S. industry delegation in Bangkok, Somsak described Thailand’s growth plans for its shrimp sector as “gradual” but sustainable. 

 “We have been suffering from EMS now for four years,” Somsak said. “At the beginning, we didn’t know where it’s coming from, but now we know it’s from a bacteria and we [are] now solving this problem with the concept of good farming. Stock cleaning and water cleaning will be central to the future farming of shrimp. Seventy to 80 percent of the problem is now solved.”

According to Somsak, Thailand’s production fell from a high of 600,000 to 700,000 tons (the figures represent pond gate production before processing) to 300,000 tons in 2016. Thailand currently gets half of its four million tons of shrimp from the sea, but this percent will drop in the future, predicted Somsak.

Clawing back lost market share may be difficult. Also addressing the briefing, Panisuan Jamnamwej, chairman of the Committee on Fisheries and Related Industries at the Thai Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that Thai shrimp used to have 30 to 40 percent market share in the U.S., where imports account for 90 percent of consumption. 

“Now Thailand and Ecuador are at 13 percent and Indonesia is at 19 percent,” Panisuan said. “In the future something will have to give if Thailand is to recover its share.”

Nonetheless, Somsak pointed to the U.S. as an opportunity market, given that shrimp consumption there has risen from two to 4.6 pounds per year. 

Russia, on the other hand, has become less attractive as an export market as its imports have fallen back with the weakening of the national currency, the rouble, explained Somsak.

In the next few years, the biggest factor to watch for in the shrimp trade is China, according to Somsak.

“Before they didn’t eat much shrimp, now they’re buying from all over the world,” Somsak said. “If they increase from 200 grams [of per-person consumption] and eat like the Americans, there won’t be enough supply in the world to meet this demand!” 

Contributing Editor reporting from Beijing, China

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