Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mexican Shrimp Market Update

The situation in Mexico is not looking good for the upcoming season. The warmer temperature that Mexico has had in the last several few weeks has not stabilized the contamination of white spot disease in the shrimp ponds. The situation in the farms in Mexico has gotten worse. The farms in Hermosillo (northern Sonora), where we purchase most of our Mexican shrimp, have been contaminated with white spot disease; however some of the farms are being hit worse than others. Farmers, who are noticing even a little higher mortality than normal, are harvesting the ponds immediately.

Most of the farmers are not restocking the ponds that they are harvesting now because they are afraid that the new stock could be contaminated and lost. There is a “fire” raging in Mexico right now and the damage cannot be assessed until the “flames” are put out. We are still a few weeks away (mid August) from assessing the final damage. At this point in time, what ever shrimp will survive, will survive now and what ever shrimp will die, will die now. The health of a pond could change one day to the next. For the farmers that will make it to the final harvest in September-October, they anticipate pulling mainly sizes 26/30-36/40.

Our suppliers expect that we will see no farm-raised 16/20 and very limited supply of 21/25 this year. They believe that most farmers will be nervous about extending their final harvests any longer than September-October. The temperatures were unseasonably cold immediately after stocking this year. This set off the white spot outbreak, but also was responsible for very slow growth.

The Mexican domestic market prices will remain unusually high as buyers compete for the limited product that is available. Last week, one farmer sold 26/30’s in the domestic market at US$ 6.00/lb.! Depending on how long it takes for the demand in the Mexican domestic market to be filled, forecasts indicate that the volume of exportable shrimp from Mexico could be down as much as 75% this year, when compared to last year.

The projection for sizes of ocean shrimp this season indicates that we will see less of the larger sizes that normally come from Mexico, particularly from the bays. Right now, it seems that we may see 21/25 - 31/35 from the bays this season, as opposed to U/15 - 21/25. This is due to colder water temperature at the start of the growing season.

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