October 16, 2013
The US and EU markets' demands for shrimp from Bangladesh have increased significantly as an epidemic ravaged farms in China and Southeast Asian countries.
The Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS), the latest epidemic to hit Asia's booming shrimp industry, was first detected in Chinese farms in 2009. It gradually spread to Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, according to sources.
In the current year, the price of Bangladesh's black tiger variety of shrimp rose to US$9/kg in the US market against the previous year's price of US$5, said Abul Bashar, executive director of Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA).
In the first quarter of the current fiscal, Bangladesh's shrimp export grew by 52.30% against a negative growth in the last fiscal, data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) showed.
Sources said that the US and European importers were looking to place hefty orders. However, local shrimp exporters were expressing their inability to meet the high demand. Apart from the US and EU buyers, those from Thailand, Vietnam and China are also placing orders with the Bangladeshi shrimp producers.
Khan Habibur Rahman, a leading supplier of shrimp for the US market, said that demand was high and prices were increasing daily. "Unfortunately, the country's capacity is limited compared to the demand," he added.
Shrimp exports fetched US$174.05 million in the July-September quarter of the current fiscal year against US$114.28 million in the corresponding period of the last fiscal.
Thailand's shrimp production amounted to 485,000 tonnes last year, of which 80% was exported. China's total shrimp output was more than 1.5 million tonnes annually before the EMS breakout, of which about 200,000 tonnes were exported.
Since the EMS epidemic, China has been importing shrimp from India and Ecuador to meet the huge domestic demand.
Vietnam is also importing shrimp to keep its processing industry going. However, shrimp from Bangladesh remained stockpiled for the last 12 days at the US port, as US officials were facing a partial shutdown of the government.