Toan Dao : Seafood Source
The market is likely to face shortage of shrimp later this year, according to Jim Gulkin, the group general manager of Bangkok, Thailand-based seafood trader Siam Canadian Group.
Gulkin told SeafoodSource via email on 27 April many farmers across most shrimp-producing countries are generally not keen to stock ponds due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, The adverse impacts from the pandemic are driving farmers in India, Thailand, Indonesia and others to seed “very conservatively,” he said.
The world’s leading shrimp exporter, India, has decided to extend its ongoing nationwide lockdown to 3 May in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Although the Indian government lifted restrictions for its fishing and aquaculture industries on 10 April, the industry is still facing significant obstacles caused by the lockdown.
“In India, there are physical challenges to reseeding and farming in general, but beyond that farmers are worried about prices, so seeding has been lower,” Gulkin said.
Gulkin’s opinion is backed by a survey by Aquaconnect, a network supporting the aquaculture sector in India. The group measured the impacts of the pandemic on the local shrimp sector last week, and found that falling material prices and market instability due to the crisis are causing significant problems for the industry. The drop in prices and the shutdown of several processing plants are confounding shrimp farmers, causing them to cancel or postpone their summer crop seeding, according to Aquaconnect. The survey also found that slower global demand and near-global lockdown measures have caused the global material oversupply to worsen.
In Thailand, farmers are expecting support from the government to help lift prices during the outbreak of the COVID-19.
“It is not clear what type of support will materialize, but meanwhile, farmers are losing money, so [they] have very much reduced seeding,” Gulkin said.
In Indonesia, large-scale harvesting typically takes place during the holy month of Ramadan and before the Eid Al Fitr holiday. This year, Ramadan will last from 23 April to 23 May and the Eid Al Fitr holiday will take place from 24 May to 25 May. And re-seeding often occurs after the holidays.
But things have changed this year, as many farmers completed their harvesting before Ramadan. Therefore, it is expected that the shrimp shortage will prevail after the end of the holiday, according to Gulkin.
“Generally speaking, new seeding in Indonesia will take place after Eid Al Fitr, but we can expect farmers to be very conservative this year,” he said.
Indonesia’s government has banned all air and sea travel until June to contain the spread of the deadly-virus outbreak during the holiest period on the Islamic calendar.
Ecuador, which is also struggling with the spread of the virus – especially in its major shrimp-producing region – is cutting down production as stockpiles are growing due to low demand. And in Vietnam, executives at the country’s top shrimp trading firms have expressed deepening concern about a possible global shortage of shrimp in the latter half of the year.
“I see [global] prices possibly softening in the short- to medium-term and then the effects of a shortage will become apparent in the third quarter and the fourth quarter,” Gulkin said.