The oil spill in the US has pushed up prices of shrimp and other kinds of seafood. Vietnamese seafood exporters believe that Vietnam’s target of exporting $4.5 billion in seafood in 2010 is now within reach.
The worst oil spill case in the history of the US has resulted in sharp price increases of shrimp and shrimp-related food products worldwide.
According to Urner Barry, a food price researcher, the price of shrimp made in the US has increased by 40 percent to $6.2 per pound (a pound is equal to 0.454 kilos) since the oil spill. Food companies and restaurants have been trying to buy more shrimp to store in fear that the prices will increase further.
Currently, the US remains the biggest consumer of shrimp and crab in the world. The average consumption level per capita in the US has increased from 0.64 kilos to 1.86 kilos in 2008. Besides domestically-sourced products, the US imports shrimp from countries in the Gulf of Mexico, plus other countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
Some analysts speculate that the oil spill is not the only reason driving up shrimp prices. They point out that the global shrimp output has decline sharply since last year, due to epidemics in Asia and bad weather in many areas. The shrimp price in the US, in fact, had already increased by 15 percent by April 20, when the oil spill took place. Meanwhile, the shrimp price in Japan has also increased by 18 percent so far this year.
More opportunities for Vietnam
Truong Dinh Hoe, Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), is staying optimistic about Vietnam’s seafood exports for 2010. He noted that the Russian market has recovered strongly after many renovations in payment procedures. US demand will also rise as a result of the oil spill, which will make their domestic seafood output drop.
Hoe went on to explain that, besides traditional markets, exports to American countries are also expected to increase in 2010. Additionally, North Africa and the Middle East have also proven to be markets with great potential.
“If Vietnam can maintain its current growth rate, the target of $4.5 billion worth of seafood export revenue in 2010 will be within reach,” Hoe predicted.
In the first five months of 2010, Vietnam’s total seafood export revenue had reached $1.62 billion, an increase of 17.3 percent in comparison with the same period of 2009. Especially, frozen shrimp exports increased by 29.5 percent compared with the same period last year. The EU, China and South Korea remains the biggest export markets for Vietnamese shrimp exporters.
Tra and basa fish exports, while facing difficulties due to the euro’s depreciation against the dollar, still welcomed the satisfactory growth rate of 12.3 percent. The US remains the second biggest importer of Vietnam’s tra fish and shrimp.
Vietnam has exported 13,000 tons of tra fish to the US so far this year, reaping $40 million. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s tuna exports to the US and Canada have increased by 500 percent in comparison with the same period of 2009. The export price has also become more attractive, averaging $3.83 per kilo.
The shrimp price has also climbing in the domestic market. In Ca Mau province, black tiger shrimp sells at between 140,000 dong per kilo (30 shrimp per kilo) and 180,000 dong (20 shrimp per kilo). Meanwhile, white leg shrimp trade at 54,000 dong per kilo (100 shrimp per kilo).