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Due to a multiplicity of reasons the Argentine shrimp has not only suffered a drop in price but also a violent cooling in sales

Low shrimp sales and falling prices worry the fisheries sector

Click on the flag for more information about Argentina ARGENTINA
Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 00:10 (GMT + 9)

Shrimp catches from 2018 have not yet been fully sold and European markets are stocked. In China, oversupply of vannamei from India and Ecuador is displacing the Argentine crustacean and dragging its price to the lowest value in the last 15 years. Reducing the fishing effort seems a biological and commercial need.

There is concern in the business sector about the fall of the shrimp market. Due to a multiplicity of reasons the Argentine shrimp has not only suffered a drop in price but also a violent cooling in sales. The largest Argentine exporters have large remnants of the 2018 season; and while European markets are oversupplied, China is buying the overproduction of vannamei from India and Ecuador at very low prices. The catches in the current season are of poor quality, composed of small and soft specimens that do not contribute to improving the situation in the markets.

Seafood processors begin to evaluate whether to continue buying the production of the fresh fish vessels. Many agree that delaying the opening of the fishery in national waters could have favored commercialization.

Argentine shrimp traded by the Spanish group Delfin.

In 2018, 250,000 tonnes of shrimp were caught. It was caught beyond reason, extending the season from October to November against all biological recommendations. The 302 boats that operated last year generated an excess of catches that, when combined with sales lower than those expected in European Christmas, resulted in oversupply of the market and overstock in the seafood companies.

We have arrived to June 2019 and the largest exporters in the sector have a large volume of shrimp in warehouses that comes, mostly, from the last month of last season. The desperation of Spanish traders to generate sales seem to have deepened the problem.

The markets of Italy and Spain, which are still the most important for Argentina at the moment, are not going through their best economic moment and they were stoked last year. Today it is very difficult to sell and industrialists are being unable to maintain the price. In fact, in recent months prices have fallen at the rate of one dollar per kilo, reaching the lowest value in the last 15 years.

The Spanish group Arbumasa has cold storage facilities for frozen products, all located in Puerto Deseado.

At the same time, the fact that shrimp has become a product that is always available is changing the behavior in the markets: no longer large purchases are made to guarantee the supply but the forecasts are now short-term. This complicates the situation even more.

On the other hand, we are facing an overproduction of vanamai shrimp farmed in India and Ecuador, which has generated a strong impact on the Chinese market, dragging down the price of Argentine shrimps. But what worries most the Argentine sector is that for the moment there is no willingness to buy.

For Miguel Glikman, from Newsan, which has one of its biggest buyers in China, the outlook for this year appears to be very complicated. "I do not remember such a low price for our onboard shrimp in the last six years. The shrimp processed on land was sold because it went to another market, tail-on or peeled, but now, as its price went down, the equation does not close," said the businessman.

When the price begins to fall, China usually stops purchases hoping that it will lower even more; and that would be the particular scenario of this moment. The sector hopes that this situation will be reversed in the next month, when the Asian giant begins to stock up for the Chinese New Year to be celebrated next January.

As for the fall in sales in the Japanese market, which has always sought excellence, CAPIP President Damián Santos attributes it to the irruption in the last three years "of spot exporters (sale and immediate payment) who bought shrimp of another quality and flooded the market, generating a very strong price competition. Although they ended up losing a lot of money and they are not going to buy again, it will take a long time for  that market to settle down. "

For Mauro Zamboni, from  Argenova, which mainly markets its production in Spain, the excessive supply of vannamei is not the main problem. He considers that the factors that have most influenced are in the first place a bad political-commercial strategy. "If in the absence of resource or the delay that is being observed, it would have been better handled, both from the fisheries management and from the businessmen, and instead of thinking about catching shrimp as much a possible, it would have been thought to wait for a better situation of the resource, then we could have kept the price and maybe even improve it," said the Argenova manager.

To this situation it must be added that the catches of the fresh fish fleet at this moment are of a low quality product that is mostly destined for blocks. Only a small part can be reprocessed in tails 1 and 2 that would achieve a better price. Those in charge of on-land processing plants are now evaluating if it is convenient for them to continue buying that raw material, as it will be very difficult to find buyers.

The current scenario is very complicated at the moment; until China starts buying and Europe runs out of inventories, sales will remain at a very low level. Entrepreneurs say that it is on the verge of not covering production costs and again the decisions taken in times of abundance begin to impact.

Original story by Karina Fernández /Revista Puerto 





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