Many shrimp-processing plants in the East and South have temporarily reduced or suspended production as shrimp disease has cut supplies. The higher cost of labour and the baht’s appreciation has also dampened the industry’s growth this year.
Poj Aramwattanont, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, said the shrimp industry was facing serious problems due to the lack of supply. “The processing plants are struggling to maintain their business by reducing the working day, temporarily closing down, or reducing production capacity in order to survive during this critical period,” Poj said.
Because of the outbreak of early mortality syndrome, production has dropped by more than 50 percent from the normal level of 200,000 tons to about 90,000 tons in the first half of this year, he said. Shrimp production in the first quarter was 63,000 tons, in April 13,000, and in May 8,700. Production this month is expected to drop to 8,000 tons.
The disease began hitting Thai shrimp late last year. The Fisheries Department is working on the problem, and it is hoped that it will be resolved by the fourth quarter.
Because of the baht’s appreciation and higher labour costs, shrimp exporters are having to struggle this year.
The cost of raw shrimp has climbed from Bt160 to Bt240 for 50 shrimps a kilogram, while the cost of 100 shrimps a kilo has increased from Bt100 last year to Bt150-Bt160.
As a result, the association projects that the volume of Thai shrimp export will drop by 30-40 per cent this year. However, export value will not decline as much because producers have tried to add more value to their product. The value of shrimp export this year is expected to drop by 10-20 percent.
According to Commerce Ministry data, the value of shrimp export in the first four months dropped 19.3 percent year on year to US$643 million (Bt19.8 billion).