May 27, 2016

Thailand toppled as top shrimp exporter


Despite recovering from the early mortality syndrome outbreaks, Thailand's shrimp sector has suffered enough of a crippling damage to be displaced from its reigning position as the world's top exporter.

From number one, Thailand has fallen to just being the world's number four shrimp exporter. Vietnam has taken the top place.

This is one of the findings of a study on shrimp aquaculture in Southeast Asia done by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SPF).

The study said Thailand has particularly suffered from production losses due to EMS (early mortality syndrome), and has consequently been surpassed by Vietnam, China, and India, in that order. SPF, though, noted that the Thai shrimp industry is strongly recovering from the disease.  

The study, entitled "SFP Report on the Shrimp Sector: Asian Farmed Shrimp Trade and Sustainability" and authored by Nicole Portley, was conducted in early 2015.

The study noted that while EMS affected its production as well, Vietnam currently appears to be the world leader in shrimp exports and farmed exports as of 2013, although it no longer reports export volumes and only export value. It said export volumes were only estimates.

Of the 10 countries studied, four exported more than half of their shrimp production and had shrimp export values of over US$1 billion each. These are Vietnam, Thailand, India, and Indonesia, and they all made large-scale investments in intensive whiteleg shrimp (Pennaeus vannamei) farming.

Five countries (Bangladesh, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Myanmar), which did not make large-scale investments in intensive whiteleg shrimp aquaculture, struggled to compete for the international market with those that did, according to the study. These countries each exported US$500 million or less of shrimp annually and kept more than half of their shrimp in-country for domestic consumption.

China was an exceptional country in that while it invested heavily in whiteleg shrimp culture, it kept 88% of its shrimp production for domestic consumption, indicating that there was a high demand for shrimp in the Chinese market.

The study found that the US, EU and Japan were still the leading destinations for Asian shrimp.

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