Thai shrimp production set for rebound after 2020 slump : Undercurrentnews
María Feijóo: UnderCurrentNews
The shrimp industry in Thailand expects production to rebound by at least 17% in 2021 after a significant drop of around 25% year-on-year in 2020, said Sorophat Panakorn, a shrimp culture specialist with the Thai branch of biotech rm Novozymes, speaking at Aqua Expo Guayaquil on Nov. 26.
“During the past three to four years, Thailand has been producing around 300,000 metric tons of shrimp per year worth about $2.3 billion,” he explained.
“We expect shrimp production to be somewhere near 280,000t in 2021 as it significantly dropped this year, but it may also be possible that production rises to 300,000t again if we manage to take good advantage of all the changes that the pandemic has brought into the industry, such as continuing to sell through online channels and further investing in more automation systems.”
Thailand has been among the more-fortunate shrimp farming countries during the pandemic, with the industry only seeing minor logistical issues relative to the more directly affected powerhouses of India and Ecuador, Undercurrent News previously reported.
Speaking on Undercurrent’s global shrimp outlook webinar in September, Jim Gulkin — the head of global seafood trader Siam Canadian Group — said he did not expect Thailand’s 2020 production to differ substantially from last year in terms of gross tonnage, although there may be some differences in sizing ratios.
“Unless raw material prices go up considerably and the farmers become more incentivized to seed, maybe the production will be similar,” Gulkin said at the time.
However, the data presented by Panakorn during his presentation shows a more pessimistic outlook for 2020 due to the great impact that the pandemic has had in the country and the impact in farm management due to 22 different monsoon storms this year, he explained.
“Around mid-year, we estimated 2020’s total shrimp production in the country to be somewhere around 240,000t,” Panakorn said. “Even though it is true that I heard nal gures might be a bit higher than that, we will have to wait until the 1st quarter of 2021 to get a solid conclusion on how big the impact of these setbacks has been on the sector.”
Future outlook for the sector
The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the buying power and the economic condition of the population in Thailand, with domestic demand for shrimp dropping due to low foodservice sector activities and poor tourism this year, according to Panakorn.
“If you add this to the fact that Thai shrimp currently has very uncompetitive prices due to a higher average production cost and poorer marketing activities than its competitors, as well as several production threats such as diseases like the white feces syndrome (WFS) or limited farming space, we have a lot to improve,” he said.
According to the latest data available in Undercurrent’s prices portal, prices for 60count Thai shrimp are well above prices for same-size shrimp from competitors such as India, Ecuador or Indonesia.
The price for 60-count shrimp from Thailand was THB 147.50 ($4.86) per kilogram in week 48, up by between 3% and 59% in comparison with its competitors, as the chart below shows.
“Thus, in order to ensure continuity and growth of shrimp in Thailand, the sector needs to focus on better shrimp health and production cost management, minimizing the losses from WFS, nding a way to maintain the production, and providing better prices by improving the product quality,” Panakorn added.
“Also, we need to strengthen our commitment to constantly reduce our environmental footprint, aligning with long-term, sustainable practices and avoiding over-production, which will also increase our value.”