November 8, 2011
Thailand's shrimp exports to undergo stricter quality inspection
A tougher quality inspection of Thai shrimp exports is taking place as importing countries are worried about emerging diseases from the floods, according to Panisuan Jamnarnwej, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association.
He said random quality inspections had increased fivefold for shipments to the US, though exporters confirmed there have been no disease outbreaks.
The association strictly monitors product quality.
But frozen shrimp producers are worried that the worsening floods may affect the transport of carbon dioxide used in the freezing process.
It is shipped from Rayong to factories in the Mahachai area of Samut Sakhon.
Some factories require up to three deliveries of carbon dioxide a day.
Also threatening the frozen food industry are power outages that will force factories to use generators, which require fuel.
"If fuel cannot be delivered to factories, the whole industry would be damaged," he said.
Considering these obstacles, the industry expects exports will drop by 7% this year from 350,000 tonnes exported last year.
Paiboon Ponsuwanna, president of the Thai National Shippers Council, said shipping via marine transport had dropped by 10-15% so far but would likely contract by 30% this year, following earlier projections of 20% growth.
This is because so many factories are inundated, particularly exporters shipping computer parts, integrated circuits, and automobile parts.
Though some exporters are still manufacturing, many cannot bring their products to ports in time to meet shipping schedules.
Normally exports are most active in the fourth quarter with holiday season orders, driving 15% average annual growth.
"It is worrisome this year due to the flood. It will be difficult for Thailand to depend greatly on exports as in the past. The flooding impact will likely linger until the first quarter next year," said Ponsuwanna.