Faced with a host of problems, Kerala seafood exporters fear a 30-40 per cent plunge in revenue this fiscal against ₹5,000 crore achieved in 2019-20.
Apart from weak demand, particularly in the European Union, due to a mutant strain of coronavirus, payment delays and declining shipments to China, the second largest market after the US, have added to their woes. This came on top of Christmas and New Year sales washout caused by inadequate refrigerated containers, inordinate delays in Colombo Port and missing schedules.
The uncertainty following the second wave of Covid-19 and lockdown across countries has resulted in a tense situation especially in the EU, Alex K.Ninan, President of Seafood Exporters Association of India, Kerala region, said.
MPEDA figures reveal that the EU, during April-September 2020, imported 59,840 tonnes of seafood from India valued at ₹2,485 crore against 79,445 tonnes valued at ₹2,897 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.
Ninan pointed out that Chinese market is also getting tightened due to declining shipments and exporters are facing difficulties in getting timely payments. The last three months saw a 90 per cent disruption in cargo movement to China. “We are now catering to some existing buyers with 100 per cent advance payment,” he told BusinessLine.
As per MPEDA figures, China, during April-September 2020, imported 1,02,980 tonnes of marine products at ₹3,369 crore against 1,48,782 tonnes at ₹4,615 crore a year ago.
On the US market, Ninan said, “despite concern on rising Covid cases, there has been a good movement. However, a subdued demand due to piling up of stocks has led to a 20 per cent drop in prices”.
MPEDA figures put India’s exports to US at 1,34,610 tonnes valued at ₹8,512 crore in April-September (against 1,63,588 tonnes at ₹9,464 crore).
Equirus Securities, in its aquaculture update, said shrimp imports to US from India declined 6 per cent in October by volume and 5 per cent by value. Covid is still a major factor as partial lockdowns in the US and EU impact demand. It is expected to improve post vaccination.
Lakkaraju Satyanarain, former President of All India Shrimp Hatcheries Association, pointed out to the surge in Vannamei shrimp prices during the last one month due to heavy rainfall and cyclones in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, affecting farming. Inundated ponds have led to low harvests in December. Exporters will face a tough time in getting shrimp of larger size such as 40 or 50 counts for the required volumes, he added.