March 1, 2007


Vietnam should diversify shrimp exports to Japan: officials



Vietnamese exporters have been advised to diversify their shrimp export products, otherwise, they will lose the Japanese market.


According to the Vietnamese Business Affairs Division in Osaka, imports of white shrimp (Penaeus Vannamei) by Japan have been increasing considerably in the last time. It is estimated that the total imports of white shrimp will exceed the imported volume of black tiger shrimp, Japan's key import item since late 1990s.


The Japanese has been a big consumer of caught shrimp but has shifted to the cultivated black tiger shrimp in the 1980s as it has been the preferred variety for roasted shrimp, Japan's favourite dish.


However, white shrimp later is gradually becoming Japan's preferential import item due to stable supply and cheaper cost.


Though smaller and less appetizing, Vietnam embassy officials foresee that white shrimp can likely replace black tiger shrimp in Japan.


White shrimp is being grown in North America and the countries in the central and southern America like the US, Venezuela and Brazil. Recently, this kind of shrimp is being hatched in Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, China and Taiwan territory. It is easier to breed white shrimp, which can bring the output two folds higher than black tiger shrimp. Analysts said that the production cost is 25 to 30 percent lower than black tiger shrimp.


According to the Ministry of Trade, recently, the Philippines' Department of Agriculture has already lifted the ban of white shrimp import and hatchery in the country and is now starting to cultivate the species.


The ban was imposed in Philippine shores in 2001 to protect the local black tiger shrimp industry from Taura syndrome. It has been removed after tests for cultivation was conducted by local authorities have been successful.


Thailand now also is shifting to hatch white shrimp and it has become the biggest supplier of frozen white shrimp to Japan.


The change in the tastes of Japanese consumers will lead to the adjustment in the imports structure of the country. The Vietnamese consulate therefore recommends considering breeding and exporting white shrimp to Japan to retain its market.


In 2006, the frozen shrimp imports by Japan increased by 1.1 percent over the previous year, reaching US$2 billion (Vietnam-sourced shrimp accounted for 23 percent of the market share). White shrimp imports increased by 10 percent while the black tiger shrimp imports decreased by 10 percent.