Shrimp Exports From Thailand Poised to Decline 50% on Disease

Shrimp exports from Thailand may slump 50 percent this year because of a disease called Early Mortality Syndrome in one of the industry’s worst crises, said Somsak Paneetatayasai, president of Thai Shrimp Association.

Shipments would decline from an annual average of 350,000 metric tons, he said in a phone interview today. Supply may also fall about 50 percent from normal production of 500,000 tons per year, he said.

The disease has killed cultivated shrimps in several countries in Asia where one million people depend on this type of aquaculture for their living, according to a report on the website of the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization. Asia produced 3 million tons of shrimp with a value of $13.3 billion in 2011, it said. The industry is showing signs of recovery after hatcheries, farmers and the government worked to stop the disease spreading, said Somsak.

“We’re seeing some encouraging signs that the outbreak is abating and shrimp supply in the second half of this year will rebound significantly,” said Somsak. “Farmers are more cautious in starting hatcheries again and this will make it difficult to boost shrimp output to the level before the disease started spreading.”

Thai companies are considering importing prawns and related products including frozen ones from Ecuador, India and Vietnam to help meet local demand, according to the Thai Frozen Foods Association. While Thai Union Frozen Products Pcl expects earnings to decline in 2013 because of the disease, business should start to recover in the second half, President Thiraphong Chansiri said last month.

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