Thailand's shrimp exports are expected to grow by 10% next year, driven by a slight increase in domestic shrimp production and stronger demand, especially in the United States.
Ekapoj Yodpinit, president of the Thai Shrimp Association, said overall shrimp production in Thailand this year stood at 280,000 tonnes, matching the level recorded in 2022, while shrimp exports this year are projected at roughly 120,000 tonnes valued at 50 billion baht, a decrease from last year's figure of 144,113 tonnes valued at 50.9 billion baht.
The decline in shrimp exports was largely attributed to low shrimp prices and an increase in production costs, leading some farmers to temporarily suspend their shrimp raising activties. However, farmers faced other challenges, too, such as diseases that are common in shrimp aquaculture as well as volatile weather conditions.
Mr Ekapoj said the most significant risk factor remains the impact of diseases, which resulted in a significant reduction in the country's shrimp production.
Mr Ekapoj said production from the upper southern region is expected to account for 33% of this year's output, with the eastern region generating 25%, the lower southern region on the Andaman Coast producing 20%, the lower southern region on the Gulf of Thailand responsible for 10%, and the central region producing 12% of the total.
Shrimp production worldwide is expected to reach roughly 5.07 million tonnes this year, a 1% drop from 2022, with China and Ecuador both having increased their rate of production.
Countries in Asia, such as Vietnam, India and Indonesia, have seen a decline in their shrimp production.
Mr Ekapoj said global shrimp production is projected to decrease by 2% next year, while Thailand's shrimp production next year is expected to reach 290,000 tonnes.
In the first 10 months of this year, Thailand exported 109,663 tonnes of shrimp, a 9% drop from the 120,310 tonnes recorded during the corresponding period last year, with the value standing at 36.2 billion baht, down 14% from 42.3 billion baht recorded in the first 10 months of 2022.
"For the upcoming year, we expect Thailand's shrimp exports will reach around 290,000 tonnes, a 10% increase from this year, with a potential 20% increase in value due to improved price conditions compared to this year," Mr Ekapoj said.
According to Mr Ekapoj, there is an opportunity for increased shrimp exports to the US next year after four major shrimp-producing countries -- Ecuador, India, Indonesia and Vietnam -- face investigations by the US regarding anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty. This situation may pose a risk to US importers, which could lead them to turn to Thailand for their purchases. However, the four countries under investigation could redirect their exports to alternative markets, such as China and Japan.
Meanwhile, Mr Ekapoj said the Thai Shrimp Association's ongoing efforts to promote shrimp farming in Surat Thani province to raise the country's shrimp farming to the standards set by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which is utilised by the US as a requirement for shrimp imports, is an initiative that is expected to help strengthen the country's reputation for food safety in export markets, including the US and European Union (EU).
"Nonetheless, the association has proposed that the [Thai] government expedite negotiations with the EU to restore the generalised system of preferences for shrimp imports from Thailand. Currently, Thailand is only able to export 900 tonnes of shrimp to the EU annually, a significant decrease from the previous level of 60,000 tonnes," said Mr Ekapoj. "Accelerating the free trade agreement negotiations between Thailand and the EU is also seen as a strategy to enhance competitiveness."
According to Mr Ekapoj, the association is also appealing for government support in the area of research and development to address shrimp diseases, such as early mortality syndrome, white feces syndrome, white spot disease, and yellow-head virus.