Thai shrimp exports up despite strong baht

By

Neil Ray, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Bangkok

Published on
December 20, 2010

Despite a turbulent year, Thailand has managed not only to keep its economy intact but has also succeeded in gaining ground.

The mid-year political unrest was expected to hurt Thailand’s economy.

But far from it, as the baht has strengthened, particularly against the U.S. dollar. The double-edged sword for Thai exporters is that the United States imports half of Thailand’s shrimp production, which has led to a drop in export value.

Thailand’s 2010 shrimp production is expected to be close to 400,000 metric tons valued at USD 2.8 billion (EUR 2 billion), which would be up 8 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, from last year.

Speaking to the Thai media recently, Panisuan Jamnarnwej, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, said, “An increase in exports is not an indictor of industry stability, as food processors and exporters are still suffering heavy losses from baht appreciation.”

The Thailand Shrimp Association President Somsak Paneetatyasai said the higher shrimp exports were largely attributed to falling supplies from Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and China due to a virus outbreak, in addition the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which hurt U.S. shrimp production.

The Thailand Department of Fisheries told SeafoodSource that it expects an increase in total seafood output of 5 to 8 percent next year. However, analysts from the Stock Exchange of Thailand in Bangkok are predicting the possibility of an even stronger Thai baht in 2011, with the value appreciating an additional 8 to 10 percent.

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