Decline in global prices triggers worry for Indian shrimp exporters

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Slack US demand, higher Vannamei supplies in India and other countries to keep prices under check.

The drop in global shrimp prices seems to be a cause of worry for the Indian aquaculture sector, even as the country’s seafood exports witnessing a 20 per cent growth in the first three months of the calendar year.

The price fall by ₹100-150 a kg was mainly attributed to the sluggish demand in the US market. The long winter in the US has resulted in low consumer offtake which is reported to be one of the reasons for a sluggish demand. Automatically, stocks started piling up in super markets due to continued exports from India.

Mpeda figures reveal that out of the 11,34,948 tonnes of seafood exports in FY17, frozen shrimp accounted for 38.28 per cent and the US imported 1,88,617 tonnes followed by the South-East Asia.

“The drop in rates is expected to continue at least for the next six months,” Lakkaraju Satyanarain, President, All India Shrimp Hatcheries Association, told BusinessLine. The harvest season is yet to start on the eastern coast and the emerging situation may force aqua farmers to go for the yield much early, fearing a further fall in prices. Unless there is any upward movement in the next 3-4 months, the confidence level of farmers would get affected, he said adding that the prices are expected to stabilise once China ups its buying.

The lacklustre demand has already impacted shrimp prices which were down 20 per cent even before the start of peak production season. The price drop was also reflected in the hatchery seed rates which now stand at 20-25 paise per seed against the earlier level of 50 paise, he said.

Vannamei output rising

Vannamei shrimp variety constitutes 70 per cent of the country’s seafood export basket valued at ₹37,871 crore in 2016-17.

The production of this particular variety rose to to 6 lakh tonnes (lt) in 2017-18 from 5 lt.

However, informed sources in the Seafood Exporters Association of India here said that today Vannamei supply is exceeding the demand in the world market due to higher production in China, Thailand, Vietnam as well as in India. This production growth has been achieved by taking effective disease control measures in aquaculture farms. As a result, there is oversupply and there is a limit for the market to absorb.

Vannamei production cycle at farm level is normally 100-120 days. The stocking level (farmers put seeds in farms) for the first crop usually begins during the period between January 15 and February 15 and will be harvested in May. The second crop season starts in April.

Higher area

Moreover, the increase in the area of aquaculture, especially in India, also led to higher production of farmed shrimps.

Except Kerala, all the coastal States such as Andhra, Odisha, Gujrat, West Bengal have gone far ahead in Vannamei production with the total area rising to two lakh hectares.

With the improvement in area of cultivation and better farm management practices, Vannamei production is expected to touch 7 lt shortly, the sources said.

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