China white shrimp industry
China’s White Shrimp Industry Held Back by Problems, Uncertainties June 24, 2019 Shrimps are of great importance to China’s seafood industry, but within recent years, this sector has encountered various problems in both its farming and selling. Aquaculture regions are challenged by prevalent diseases, pond deterioration or low market prices. Industry participants are troubled by similar problems this year. According to Huang, the president for one white shrimp aquaculture alliance in Guangxi, farmers have suffered from very high mortality rates from mid-April to early May when the first-round of white shrimp start to eat feed more rapidly. In the first round, 1/3 farmers have earned some profits, 1/3 have just covered their costs, while the remaining 1/3 have lost money. The ones with small profits have stocked seed quite early or only raised seed for about 40 days after stocking in mid-March. Those who break even have stocked seed early but have not done well in management. Farmers suffering losses have not been able to raise seed to large sizes around mid-June to mid-May, though some have stocked seed after the Lantern Festival. Different selection in seed stocking has resulted in different outcomes this year. Stocking time was scattered during this year’s first round, and there were farmers stocking new seed between March to late May. Those who lost money either choose to wait or continue with cheaper seed, cheaper medicines or any measures to cut costs. But the few successful ones are looking for better technologies or a better farming model with lower risks. In addition to problems with stocking, this year’s weather has also taken a toll on China’s white shrimp farming. From this early spring to mid-April, temperature has been low in China, which leads to the shrimps’ slow growth. Though it has been getting warmer after the Tomb Sweeping Festival, wind direction changed, and then it was followed by several low-temperature, gloomy and rainy days. Weather changes led to rapid and continuous outbreaks of shrimp diseases and high mortality rates when he shrimp were growing faster. Even those with high resistance to diseases find it difficult to survive. But the prospect is more promising for those that can grow fast within the first 40 to 60 days. The situation is also better for farmers with better water conditions. Among all ponds, outdoor ones higher than sea level are among the greatest victims. In early spring, farming in such ponds of Hainan has been halted due to local policies, while it has encountered such problems as pessimistic farmers and low success rates in both Guangxi and Guangdong. High-level ponds’ farmers have made some bad choices in aquaculture. For example, some have raised stock density randomly, while some have used great quantities of medicines with any plan. Their shrimp have been diagnosed with hepatopancreatic acute necrosis syndrome, and the survivors grow very slowly. However, in some regions, local shrimp farmers plan to quit even with satisfactory success rates in aquaculture owing to some other factors like low shrimp prices. Consider the example of Rudong where success rate is closed to 70%, about 10% higher than that of last year. Higher-quality seed and better management help achieve high success rates there. Even though farmers have succeeded in aquaculture, but shrimp prices have begun to plummet since late May, which has resulted in smaller profit margins than before. For example, the price was about 45 to 46 yuan/jin (1 jin=0.5 kg; $6.54-$6.69/jin USD) for those at the size of 40 shrimp/jin in mid-May, but the farm gate price has dropped to about 18 to 18.5 yuan/jin ($2.62-$2.69/jin USD) in June. Low shrimp prices have also haunted some other regions such as Qingdao of Shandong. Before the Dragon Boat Festival, live white shrimps are priced at higher than 40 yuan/jin ($5.82/jin USD) there, but shortly after that, the prices were slashed, and they were about 25 to 26 yuan/jin ($3.64-$3.78/jin USD) for average ones and only 30 yuan/jin ($4.36/jin) for good-quality ones. In spite of this price contraction, Rudong farmers should have been encouraged in some way by the high success rates in aquaculture. However, many are selling ponds at very low prices, and there are very limited number of buyers. There are several factors that account for this seemingly abnormal situation. Most local ponds are about 4 years old, which means their conditions are worsening and it will be more difficult to raise shrimps in such ponds. And some Rudong farmers are not locals and have come from other regions like Zhejiang, and the costs are lower for them to relocate to neighboring cities and restart farming in new ponds. For some others, it is more economical to sell existing ponds because of high renovation fees. But in the end, the situation boils down to uncertainties that overshadow Rudong’s shrimp farming. Apart from pond deterioration, local farmers are also worried if the government will take measures similar to those of last year and tear down local greenhouses. The industry used to be a cash cow for Rudong, but now it is declining. No one is sure how it will play out. Shrimp industry used to be a star in China, but now it seems to have matured to its sunset stage. Some farmers are concerned that shrimp will die before reaching large sizes, and some are discouraged by low market prices and worsening farming conditions. There will still be demand for white shrimp in China, but the industry needs to figure out how to tackle the problems. Otherwise, it may be losing competitive edges with leaving of local farmers and market entry of foreign suppliers. Amy Zhong SeafoodNews.com 1-732-240-5330 editor@seafoodnews.