« November 2006 Table of Contents
Whether you're buying black tigers or Gulf browns,
there's plenty of shrimp to go around
- Steven Hedlund
November 01, 2006
In the mid-1990s, black tigers accounted for the lion's
share of the world's farmed-shrimp harvest of less than 1
million metric tons. Today, Penaeus monodon is no longer king
of the jungle, even in its native Asia.
In Asia, which represented 75 to 80 percent of the world's
farmed-shrimp harvest of 2 million metric tons in 2005, farmers
are rapidly shifting production from black tigers to Pacific
whites ( P. vannamei ), which are native to the Americas.
Thailand, China and Indonesia - the United States' leading
Asian shrimp suppliers - now produce more Pacific whites than
black tigers. Vietnam - the United States' No. 4 Asian shrimp
supplier - is on the verge of growing mostly Pacific whites,
which represented 40 percent of its farmed-shrimp harvest in
Meanwhile, India - the United States' No. 5 Asian shrimp
supplier - is looking at introducing vannamei in an effort to
boost its overall shrimp production, which has been flat over
the past few years, A.J. Tharakan, president of the Marine
Products Export Development Association, told the Financial
Express of India in October.
He said about 20 percent of Indian farms are already
equipped to raise vannamei, which accounted for just 5 percent
of the country's farmed-shrimp harvest in 2005.
But not every Asian country is jumping on the vannamei
bandwagon. Bangladesh, which produces predominately black
tigers, shows no indication of introducing Pacific whites, says
Bill More, director and VP of the Aquaculture Certification
Council in Kirkland, Wash.
Moreover, the country is not one of the six Asian and Latin
American nations subject to tariffs the U.S. Department of
Commerce set in early 2005.
As a result, through August, U.S. shrimp imports from
Bangladesh were up 24 percent, to 26.4 million pounds, from a
Madagascar also shows no sign of introducing vannamei, says
More. But the United States imported only 82,000 pounds of
shrimp from that country in 2005.
But overall, U.S. imports of raw black tigers (shell-on and
peeled) are down 22 percent, to 135.9 million pounds, from a
year ago, estimates Urner Barry Publications of Toms River,
N.J., citing National Marine Fisheries Service data.
Despite the drop in imports, prices of most sizes of black
tigers have held steady over the past two months, due to
buyers' lackluster demand for shrimp overall.
However, prices of some sizes have increased, particularly
larger cooked, peeled, tail-on tigers and raw, peeled, tail-off
In mid-October, cooked, peeled, tail-on tigers were quoted
in the high-$7 range for 16-20s, high-$6 range for 21-25s,
high-$5 range for 26-30s, mid-$4 range for 31-40s and low-$4
range for 41-50s.
Raw, peeled, tail-off tigers were tagged in the mid- to
high-$5 range for 21-25s, low-$5 range for 26-30s, low-$4 range
for 31-40s and high-$3 range for 41-50s.
Raw, shell-on Southeast Asian-raised tigers were marked in
the mid-$9 range for U12s, high-$6 range for U15s, mid-$5 range
for 16-20s, low-$5 range for 21-25s, high-$4 range for 26-30s
and high-$3 range for 31-40s, says Urner Barry.
Prices for Indian product were in the low-$9 range for U12
s, mid-$6 range for U15s, mid-$5 range for 16-20s, high-$4
range for 21-25s, mid-$4 range for 26-30s and high-$3 range for
31-40s. Bangladeshi product costs 5 to 15 cents a pound
If demand strengthens in the next few months, prices may
trend upward, especially if supplies of black tigers tighten as
Asian farmers continue to shift to Pacific whites, say
The domestic Gulf shrimp catch surpassed the
100-million-pound mark in August, nearly doubling last year's
eight-month sum and exceeding the 2005 total by about 5 million
pounds. Louisiana and Texas landings were up roughly 20 million
pounds each, to 53.4 million and 29.1 million pounds,
This year's harvest is way up, even though fewer shrimpers
are on the water. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year
displaced thousands of
upper Gulf fishermen and caused $87.4
million in damages to area shrimp boats,
facilities and other
No one knows for sure why this year's catch is so abundant,
especially in the upper Gulf (some biologists suspect that the
hurricanes facilitated the growth of juvenile shrimp).
But everyone knows what it's doing to the market: driving
The hurricanes reduced processing capacity in the upper
Gulf, and demand for shrimp overall is stagnant, due in part to
total U.S. shrimp imports being up 11 percent, to 751.3 million
pounds, through August. Shrimp inventories are high, and demand
is too weak to absorb availability.
In mid-October, prices of raw, shell-on U15 Gulf browns and
whites were down $1.75 and $1.50 a pound, respectively, from a
year ago, and prices were still falling, reports Urner
However, "it's close to the bottom," says David Silverstein
of MB Seafood in Flushing, N.Y.
Browns were quoted in the mid-$5 range for U15s, low-$4
range for 16-20s, high-$3 to low-$4 range for 21-25s, high-$3
range for 26-30s, mid-$3 range for 31-35s, low-$3 range for
36-40s and high-$2 range for 41-50s.
Whites were priced in the mid-$5 range for U15s, mid-$4
range for 16-20s, low-$4 range for 21-25s, high-$3 range for
26-30s, mid-$3 range for 31-35s and 36-40s and low-$3 range for
As for PUDs, 36-40s were tagged in the low-$3 range, 41-50s
and 51-60s in the high-$2 range, 61-70s in the mid- to high-$2
range and 71-90s, 91-110s and 111-130s in the mid-$2 range.
Prices of Canadian pinks ( Pandalus borealis ) have held
firm over the past few months, give or take 5 cents a pound. In
mid-October, 5-pound bags of cooked-and-peeled pinks were
tagged at around $3 for 125-175s and in the mid-$2 range for
150-250s, 175-250s and 250-350s, according to Urner Barry.
Through mid-October, Newfoundland's shrimp fishery had
yielded 93,907 metric tons, or 60 percent
In New England, most fishermen tied up their boats for the
season in January, just one month into the 140-day fishery,
because they were receiving only about 10 cents a pound for
The market for New England pinks ( P. borealis ) is a shadow
of its former self due to inconsistent landings over the past
few years. The fishery lasted 70 days in 2004-05, 40 days in
2004 and just 38 days
This season's fishery, which is due to open in December, is
expected to be set at 140 days again.
The resource has rebounded (the biomass is at a 20-year
high), but the market hasn't. Maine harvested 1.8 million
pounds of pinks in 2005, far more than any other New England
As is the case in New England, fewer Pacific Northwest
fishermen are taking to the water to harvest pinks ( P. jordani
). But the ex-vessel price, which fluctuates from 40 to 50
cents a pound throughout the April-to-October fishery, isn't
what's driving them away.
In Oregon, fishing permits were retired as part of the West
Coast groundfish buyback in 2003. In 2004, only 44 Oregon
vessels landed shrimp in 2004, the fewest since 1968. The state
yielded 15.8 million pounds of pinks in 2005, up 3.6 million
pounds from 2004.
But it was the third consecutive year that landings fell shy
of the 15-year average of 23.1 million pounds.
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife,
reduced fishing effort and the lack of strong recruitment
events are responsible for the drop in landings. - S.H.