By: Paul B. Brown Jr.*
Imports for April were down 13.6% pushing YTD imports 3.6% lower. HLSO imports were down almost 19% for the month and 10.5% lower YTD; peeled imports were down 11% for the month but maintained a 10.5% positive result YTD. Cooked imports were about even for the month but down 10.7% YTD and breaded imports were down both for April and YTD.
Imports from India were down 28.8% leaving YTD imports about even compared to 2015. Indonesian imports were down 15.5% for April and 6.1% YTD. Ecuador continued their lower imports down 23.2% for April and 21.9% YTD.
Vietnamese imports were higher for the month and YTD despite their production issues as raw material from other suppliers is likely sourced. Mexican imports were higher as last season’s production was liquidated.
The lower imports now correspond to what had developed in the spot market as quotations have trended higher. April /May began the ramp up of imports to the October peak.
The decline in Indian shrimp imports comes from a sharp drop in April imports of HLSO shrimp. For the month, HLSO imports dropped 55.6% while peeled imports were slightly higher at 3.7%. This is likely an indication that seasonal production is later than a year ago. Additionally, buying interest for smaller count pre-harvest shrimp has been active from both China and Vietnam.
US offerings from India are increasing and replacement pricing has moderated. Indications are that US buying interest; including retail, is active. With limited inventories on-hand in the US spot market, pricing has recently maintained or gone up slightly especially on 26-30 count and larger shrimp. However, the undertone remains unsettled as production increases and moves into larger sizes and inventories are slowly replenished.
Indonesia imports of HLSO shrimp including easy peel and peeled shrimp were lower in April. Cooked imports were 33% higher. Indonesian offerings have been mixed; but were expected to slow in the first week of July in observance of Ramadan.
Vietnam saw a substantial increase of 23.2% in shrimp exports to the US in April pushing YTD imports almost 14% higher. The bulk of imports were in peeled shrimp and cooked shrimp. HLSO imports also saw a sharp percentage increase. Vietnam continues to suffer from generally inclement weather conditions and sources substantial volumes of raw material from India. Improved seasonal weather conditions should improve production.
The earthquake in Ecuador that devastated the area around Manabi had a serious effect on shrimp production in that area; however, the region produces a fraction of the total Ecuador supply. And although the earthquake did provide a catalyst for a firming market, April and May export data indicate back-to-back record exports. Those exports are predominately headed to Asia. Imports into the US were down 23% in April, and May export data anticipates continued lower imports. Year-to-date imports were down 21.9%. So the US market for Latin American shrimp, dominated by Ecuador, has been full steady to stronger on 41-50 count and larger shrimp and steady on smaller counts.
Reports indicate that Mexican shrimp production particularly in Sinaloa has been negatively affected by high mortalities. Some feel that what was projected to be as good or better production this season as last, may not happen and instead it will be significantly lower. However exports to the US may not be as severely affected due to the attraction of the US market for large count shrimp. For now the harvest of smaller count shrimp are remaining in Mexico where prices are high, insulating especially the US west coast market from an influx of lower cost Mexican product.
Chinese breaded shrimp imports were substantially higher in April but remain lower for the year. Probably more significant to the global shrimp market is China as a shrimp importer. Imports from Ecuador have been significant and growing as well as buying interest in India and Vietnam. Some reports indicate Chinese domestic production improved and may seasonally increase.
Overall the current US shrimp complex is mostly steady; after a firming trend, as seasonal production ramps up worldwide. But there continues to be some firming pressure on large count shrimp ahead of what is hoped to be improved availability.
Domestic Gulf Shrimp
The market for headless shell-on brown shrimp has been largely unchanged in recent weeks, however somewhat unsettled amid scattered pricing which is largely reflective of individual inventory. Meanwhile, there’s sustained weakness in HLSO white shrimp, PUD’s and P&D’s. Larger count HLSO white shrimp remained in production, and the resultant drop in boat price provided sufficient margin to incent discounts. PUD’s and P&D’s have fallen across-the-board, with the most significant declines noted in the smallest counts. Anecdotal reports suggest that new season production has been largely comprised of 111-130 and smaller count PUD’s. The NMFS is reporting April 2016 landings (all species, headless) of 2.81 million lbs. compared to 1.77 million in April 2015. The cumulative total stood at 13.28 million lbs.; 37.4 percent above the Jan-Apr 2015 total.
*President of Urner Barry