Rabobank – Shrimp industry bouncing back from EMS

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Rabobank – Shrimp industry bouncing back from EMS

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Early mortality syndrome (EMS) – technically known as acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome (AHPNS) – is the No.1 challenge currently facing the global shrimp farming industry, having devastated production sites across Southeast Asia and Central America in the past two years.

However, the new report, “A New Dawn for the Prawn,” compiled by Rabobank International, states that while many unknowns remain, shrimp farmers in EMS-affected regions are finding ways to deal with the disease and reduce risk. In addition, strong prices have encouraged producers in other regions to rapidly expand production, with India, Ecuador and Indonesia expanding the fastest.

In its report, the Netherlands-based banking group states that in terms of supply contraction, the worst of EMS appears to have passed in 2013 and that during 2014, global shrimp output has been recovering in most production regions, “albeit unevenly.”

Vietnam was the first major EMS-affected region to show signs of a recovery. Rabobank estimates that Vietnam’s production declined from a peak of 496,000 metric tons (MT) in 2011 to approximately 280,000 MT in 2013, but that current expectations for 2014 suggest its shrimp supply has increased moderately in 2014, possibly by 7 percent year-on-year to 300,000 MT.

Part of the recovery has been due to the ability to rely on low-intensity systems, but it is also due to the expansion of shrimp farming to new areas, it says.

Unwavering demand

Despite the high prices, global shrimp demand has remained strong. Rabobank’s report says this is partly attributable to China further establishing itself as an emerging shrimp import market, with buyers importing farmed and wild shrimp not only from Asian producers, but also from South America, Europe and Canada. At the same time, the two leading global shrimp importers, the United States and the EU, have also shown strong demand throughout 2014.

“U.S. buyers appear to absorb the high prices with ease, with imports growing in both volume and value. Only Japan, the world’s third-largest shrimp importer, has seen demand soften due to a combination of a depreciating exchange rate, recession and long-term negative population dynamics,” said the report.

India became the No. 1 supplier of shrimp to the United States in 2013, replacing Thailand, historically the leading supplier to the market. Provided it’s not hit by any major biological or weather-related problems, Rabobank expects the country’s shrimp production to increase 15 percent to 380,000 MT this year. Furthermore, if it sees through planned expansion plans, India’s shrimp production could reach 500,000 MT by 2015.

Ecuador’s production has also grown rapidly over the past two years thanks to growing exports to the U.S., EU and Chinese markets.

And while Indonesia neighbors regions affected by EMS, the country has remained free of the disease, allowing it to increase supply and become the second-largest shrimp aquaculture producer after China.

Rabobank expects Ecuador’s shrimp production to hit 320,000 MT this year, an increase of 14 percent year-on-year, and Indonesia’s output to grow 8 percent to 385,000 MT.

In terms of global supply, Rabobank estimates farmed shrimp production could increase by 240,000 MT or 10 percent to 2.62 million MT in 2014 and that the increased supply will help to keep the prices in check into 2015.

Emerging risks

While global shrimp supply is recovering, Rabobank cautions that “a full recovery is not yet guaranteed,” and risks remain that could rapidly reverse the situation. Significant problems persist in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Mexico.

“Further EMS issues, other diseases, weather problems or even a halt to the supply recovery due to lower prices, albeit unlikely, are all still possible,” it says.

In terms of new disease outbreaks, perhaps the biggest concern is Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP), a microsporidian parasite that causes slow growth and, like EMS, affects the hepatopancreas. Originally affecting only black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon), it now also affects Pacific whites (Penaeus vannamei).

EPS was first discovered in 2009 in Thailand and has since been detected in both China and Vietnam. But some scientists suggest it may be much more widespread and that it has not been noticed due to the focus on EMS.

“It is still too early to consider EHP to be a major threat, but it is a reminder that EMS is not the only threat to biosecurity. There could even be another, yet unknown pathogen impacting the sector, and we consider shrimp farming to be a high-risk activity,” says Rabobank’s report.

Seafoodsource – Image source: www.flickr.com

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