Indian seafood industry expects the exports to pick up in the second half of the year with the increase in the import of shrimp broodstock.
The broodstock import of Vannamei shrimp, the mainstay of $6.7 bilion Indian seafood export, was disrupted for several weeks due to Covid 19 lockdown. ``It has improved and we foresee a jump in export in the second half of 2020 like it happened in the previous year,’’ said Ravi Kumar Yellenki, president of Society of Aquaculture Professionals.
After a decline in the first half of 2019, the seafood exports rose sharply towards the end of the year resulting in record shrimp production of over 800,000 tonnes. . China and the US bought substantial quantities of shrimp from India in the last few months of the year, Yellenki said.
``In April this year we had 25% increase in exports to the US with China also consuming higher quantities. But broodstock imports not being there for 50 days from March 22 to May 12 and the subsequent imports at 50% of normal may impact the export in June and July,’’ he said.
He anticipates the shrimp production to be down by 10-15% down from last year because of a gap in broodstock imports, on which India is heavily dependent for shrimp aquaculture production. About 70% of the seafood export proceeds of the country are from shrimps.
Overseas demand has picked up from last month but as most of the countries have initiated measures to tackle Covid-19, it is still subdued. ``Aggressive demand is not there and the prices have dropped in China and the US markets. In Europe, however, there is 10 to 15% slump in demand,’’ said Jagdish V Fofandi, president of Seafood Exporters Association of India.
He said while there has been only a marginal drop in the prices in the US market, it is 20 to 25% for various products in China. ``We are seeing lower demand for cuttle fish, croaker and ribbon fish , regular imports by China. They have cut prices citing lower movement of products in the market,’’ Fofandi said.
Official data of Indian seafood exports for 2019-20 is yet to be announced but the industry reckons that it could fall short of targeted $7 billion as the exports were hit by Covid pandemic in the last two months of the fiscal. The US is currently the largest buyer of Indian seafood followed by China.