Shrimp export booms on value addition, access to new markets
Kazi Azizul Islam
The country’s shrimp export has been booming in recent months, with exporters getting increased unit price as supply from other sources to the global market has shrunk.
More value addition and getting access to new markets are two other key factors that have brought about the export boost, industry people said.
The market promotion and production diversification efforts made by the exporters, who had to struggle much during the last global economic recession, are finally started to pay off, with the demand for Bangladeshi shrimp products expanding a lot.
But, shrimp production in the Aila-affected coastal areas still being unable to make a full rebound has resulted in an inadequate supply of raw shrimps, which is preventing exporters from making the most of the market potential.
‘Bangladeshi shrimp exporters are now meeting a tremendous increase in demand from the global importers,’ said Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters’ Association chief executive officer Abul Basher.
The country’s shrimp export earnings in 2009-10 fiscal was recorded at $375 million, posting a more than 7 per cent negative growth. But, in the first 10 months [July-April] of the current fiscal year, export earnings from raw and valued-added frozen shrimps amounted to $386 million, up by 52 per cent year on year.
Basher said the quantity of shrimps exported in the current fiscal year would cross the 100 million pound mark, compared to 82 million pounds exported in FY2009-10.
Industry insiders said local exporters started to find high demands for Bangladeshi shrimp products again in the European Union and the United States from the beginning of the current fiscal year as shrimp consumption at restaurants and homes there began to rise with the easing of recession.
For at least one year since the end of 2009, Bangladesh’s shrimp industry had struggled hard just to remain in business by cutting down on price drastically, so much so that the price of a pound of frozen shrimp had nosedived to $4 and even less.
BFFEA CEO Abul Basher said exporters in recent deals were getting around $7 for a pound of shrimp, which had hovered around $5 even a year ago.
Industry insiders said some exporters were now sending cooked and semi-cooked shrimps to EU and other markets at a price at least 25 per cent higher than that of raw shrimps.
Lokpur Fisheries senior executive director Khan Habibur Rahman said around 10 Bangladeshi companies were shipping shrimps in cooked and other value- added forms in large quantities to the importers in Europe and other parts of the world.
‘The market response in the EU and elsewhere to Bangladesh’s value-added shrimp products is really encouraging,’ said Khan, whose company has six marketing offices in the EU and the USA. ‘Many local exporters have made vigorous efforts in recent years to promote and market their products abroad and are now ripping the benefits.’
But, he said, a slow growth in production due to the extensive damage done to black tiger [Bagda] shrimp enclosures in coastal areas by the Cyclone Aila two years back is hindering realisation of the export potential in full.
Industry insiders said the demand for and the price of Bangladesh’s black tiger shrimp had increased as its harvest in Thailand and Vietnam was poor this season due to inclement weather and virus infections.
Cultivation of black tiger shrimps is also declining in Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries as they are opting for farming of hybrid Vannamei variety of shrimp, which is almost nil in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi black tiger shrimps are admired much on global market as these are naturally cultivated.
Despite cultivation and export of sweet water shrimps [Galda] have increased much in the recent years, black tiger shrimps still account for the lion’s share of Bangladesh’s shrimp products export proceeds.
Abul Basher said an enhanced brand image of Bangladeshi shrimp was also contributing towards the export boom.
Shipments are also increasing to some new markets, like Russia and Egypt. Egyptian importers are distributing Bangladeshi shrimps to their Middle East and African clients, he said.
BFFEA president Kazi Shahnewaz said, ‘We see further increase of our export earnings from black tiger shrimps next year with increased supply from the rejuvenated shrimp cultivation in the Aila-hit areas.’