Thai Shrimp Industry Fends Off Global Economic Crisis

By

Linda Salim, for SeafoodSource from Surabaya, Indonesia

Published on
November 16, 2008

Somsak Paneetatyasai, president of the Thai Shrimp Association, is calling on the farmed shrimp industry to brace itself from the global economic crisis by cutting production. Paneetatyasai believes the move will protect Thai shrimp prices from sliding further.

Already, the price of 50-count shrimp has dropped 15 percent this year to USD$1.50 per pound. According to Paneetatyasai, as long as the global economic crisis looms, shrimp exports will be sluggish through next year. He forecasted Thailand's 2009 shrimp exports to total less than 350,000 metric tons, down 50,000 metric tons from this year. Paneetatyasai suggested producing 10 to 20 percent less to retain the current price, if it's not possible to bring it back to last year's level.

Previously, Thai Frozen Food Association President Poj Aramwattananont reported that shrimp exports to the three main markets - the United States, Japan and the European Union - have dropped significantly, although they retained the top three spots with 52 percent, 18 percent and 9.5 percent of total Thai shrimp exports, respectively.

Aramwattananont is positive about industry growth. At USD$1.4 billion, shrimp exports for the first eight months of this year still managed to record a slight increase of 3.1 percent.

Niwat Suteemeechaikul, deputy director-general of the Department of Fisheries, has also recommended diversification to reduce dependency on the U.S. market. In his scenario, shrimp exports to the United States should be maintained at 40 percent. Suteemeechaikul recommends initiating marketing campaigns in new markets like South Korea and other Asian countries, as well as the increasingly important Middle East.

Earlier this year, before the economic crisis became apparent, Suteemeechaikul advised the shrimp industry to maintain production at 500,000 metric tons per year.

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