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July 14, 2014

Thailand

Shrimp Farmers Divided on 2014 Production Outlook

 

Shrimp farmers in Thailand are divided on the likely production level for 2014, as the country still struggles to recover from early mortality syndrome (EMS).

 

The new crop in Thailand is just getting underway, and early reports from farmers in the south say survival rates are up.  According to Jim Gulkin, managing director of Bangkok-based frozen seafood supplier Siam Canadian Group, farmers in the east of the country are not so optimistic.  “There is no consensus on Thailand’s shrimp production outlook for year 2014.  Most of southern shrimp farmers are very confident that Thailand will achieve 250,000 metric tons by the end of this year.”  This is the same level as last year, but in 2012, before EMS hit the Thai shrimp farming industry, production was 500,000 tons a year.

 

Many of the farmers in eastern Thailand, however, do not think production will hit 200,000 tons.  A level of between 170,000 and 180,000 tons sounds more realistic to these farmers, said Gulkin.  This is because the mortality rate in eastern Thailand in some farms is still high, at around 40%.  “Some seem to think 200,000 tons sounds more reasonable, considering Thailand was suffering long hot weather and drought earlier this year,” he said.  Suppliers such as Gulkin are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping Thailand will hit 250,000 tons, the same level as last year.

 

In late July and early August, the supply of medium-size, cooked, peeled, tail-on 41/50s and 51/60s will be improving, he said.  The peak production season in Thailand should be around the end August or somewhere in September.  Thailand only has orders on small sizes.  Strong demand for small sizes means farmers may only harvest small sizes, which could bring down total production.

 

New farming methods appear to be efficiently preventing EMS.  “However, farmers have to dedicate one-third of their farms for water management systems....  In other words, Thailand will be losing one-third of production from the new methods.  Farmers need to choose whether they want to take a huge risk of losing all from EMS or one-third [from reducing their production area] and minimize the risk for EMS.”  This is one reason why demand will remain stronger than supply.

 

In May 2014, Satasap Viriyanantawanit, general manager for the Siam Canadian Group in Thailand, said farmers are holding shrimp in nursery ponds for 15 days before transferring them to growout ponds.  The rainy season is also coming, which is welcome, after a long winter followed by a very hot summer with no rain.  “A long period of no rain has increased the level of bacteria in the water,” he said.  “Farmers are optimistic, because they had no EMS for a short period of time, due to these control methods,” said Viriyanantawanit.

 

Thai Union Frozen Products, the largest shrimp processor in Thailand, said to look for an improvement in the shrimp supply in the second half of 2014, rather than in the first.

 

Information: Jim Gulkin and Satasap Viriyanantawanit, Siam Canadian Foods, Co., Ltd., 9th Floor, Suite 283/44, Home Place Office Building, 283 Thonglor 13, Sukhumvit 55 Kongton Nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand (phone +66-2-185-3311, fax +66-2-185-3317, email info@siamcanadian.com, webpage http://www.siamcanadian.com).

 

Source: Undercurrent News.  Editor, Tom Seaman.  Thai Shrimp Farmers Divided on 2014 Production Outlook.  Tom Seaman  (undercurrent@undercurrentnews.com).  July 14, 2014.

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