India's shrimp exports soar 30% amid spike in EU, Middle East demand
India continues to fly high as the world's number one shrimp exporter, a distinction it took away from Thailand last year.
From January to July, India's exports seafood exports rose 30% compared to the same period last year, industry leaders say. Frozen shrimp accounts for 78% of these exports, up from 71% in the same period of 2013.
A lingering shortage of farmed shrimp in the US and the EUas Southeast Asia tries to recover from the widespread early mortality syndrome (EMS) epidemic that hit its shrimp ponds since 2012 drives the ongoing surge in India's shrimp exports.
From April to July alone, India's seafood shipments reached INR93.4 billion (US$1.5 billion) in value, up 29% from the same period last year.
The increase has been more in value than in volume, since global shrimp prices have been rising due to short supply. In recent months, for example, the average selling price of a kilogramme of shrimp went as high as INR650 (US$10.59) from onlyINR500 (US$8.15) ayear ago.
"Middle East countries have been buying a lot of Indian seafood, particularly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE, as there has been a failure of white shrimp crop in Saudi Arabia" said Anwar Hashim, managing director of Abad Fisheries, a leading exporter.
Indian aquaculture farms are breeding more shrimp to meet the demand, encouraged by good prices in the global market. While shrimp farms in Southeast Asia are gradually recovering from the EMSoutbreak, it could be years before they could be back to pre-2012 production levels, if at all.
"Last year our production was around 300,000tonnes. This year it could be 25,000 tonnes more as the demand is still good," said L Satyanarayana, president of All India Shrimp Hatcheries Association.
Thailand has been the world'sleading producer of cultured shrimp until 2012, with annual output ranging from 500,000 tonnes to 640,000 tonnes. Due to massive EMS attack last year, Thai shrimp production dropped 54% to only 250,000 tonnes last year.
This year, Thai shrimp production is expected to further dip to below 200,000 tonnes.
Globefish, a unit of FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, says in its recent reports that Indian farmers have been holding stocks in their ponds from mid-June onwards following renewed import inquiries from the US and the EU. The farms are moving away from black tiger shrimp tovannamei.
Black tiger shrimp production in India fell 40% in 2013 as farmers switched to white shrimp en masse due to high demand overseas. Black tiger shrimp takes more time to grow than vannamei.