posted by admin on 12/05/06
Thailand remains the leading supplier to the US while Indonesia is on the third
Uncertainty regarding the impact of anti-dumping proceedings resulted in weak US shrimp imports during the first quarter of 2005. Although some uncertainty continues concerning the 2006 review of the process, the start of the year has seen an increase in US imports with volumes up 11% on January last year. Results for January are mixed for the six countries affected by the anti-dumping process with volume increases for Ecuador, China and India but declines for Thailand, Vietnam and Brazil compared to the same month last year.
Despite a 10% volume decline, Thailand remains the leading supplier to the US, accounting for a quarter of total imports (30% in January 2005). An almost 50% increase in imports from China lifted the country into second position while Indonesia, unaffected by anti-dumping duties, moved to third position following a 26% increase to 5 200 tonnes. Total US shrimp imports in 2005 from Ecuador increased by over 30% compared to the previous year and this upward trend has continued into 2006 with a 47% increase during January, to 4 700 tonnes. In contrast, the downward trend in imports from Brazil which was evident in 2005, has continued into the current year with volumes down around 80% in January to just 100 tonnes. The decline in Brazilian shrimp sales to the US market has been influenced by falling farmed shrimp production in Brazil over the past two years.
Increased shrimp imports come at a time of some uncertainty regarding US domestic shrimp production. Recent statistics released by the National Marine Fisheries Services show a substantial decline in U.S. wild shrimp landings in the areas of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Usually, lower landings means higher prices, however recently the reverse has been true with U.S. wild domestic wholesale prices quoted at unexpectedly low levels. A primary example is U/15 brown shrimp which was recently being offered in the range of $6.35 to $6.50 per pound. This is a full $1.00/lb. less than the list price offerings during February/March of 2005, which ranged from $7.50 - $7.75 per pound, and a significant drop of around 14%. A number of sellers who operate out of this domestic shrimp zone believe that the official statistics are in fact incorrect and that much more shrimp was landed during November/December of 2005 than was actually reported. The problem with last year’s statistics is linked to the chaos created by the various hurricanes which hit the Gulf Coast. U.S. domestic shrimp vessels which normally land their shrimp in one port moved their landings to other areas, a development which resulted in poor statistical records.
There is also some uncertainty at present regarding likely price trends. Recent offer prices for Asian shrimp from U.S. importers have been at or above U.S. wholesale selling prices. To import Asian shrimp, traders would need to speculate on a significant increase in shrimp prices over the coming months. This raises the question as to whether U.S. market prices will increase in the medium term or whether Asian producers will reduce their offers to U.S. importers.
A final question concerns the outcome of the administrative review of the anti-dumping process. Apparently there were a significant number of requests filed on behalf of suppliers at the U.S. Department of Commerce for the deadline of February 28. A recent rumor suggested that two companies from Brazil, seven from China, five from Ecuador, five from Thailand, three from Vietnam, and 25 from India filed for revisions. The Department of Commerce will now proceed to decide how to select companies for review. However, it is believed that the DOC will use a new sampling methodology to randomly select an unspecified number of companies in each of the six countries to conduct their review as there would not be enough personnel or resources to carry out such a demanding work.
In the current market environment, prospects for shrimp exporters to the US for the second quarter remain uncertain. Traders will be placing some hope in the usual pick up in domestic shrimp consumption during the spring period.