Rising demand for smaller shrimp is compelling Indian seafood exporters to tweak their shipments to suit the global palate. India has been traditionally strong in the big-size farmed shrimp ranging from 20 to 40 counts per kg, but now they are encouraging farmers to go for multiple harvests to meet the requirement for small shrimps, which could help the farmers in the long run.
“Sharp decline in the sea-caught shrimps, especially from Kerala, which are generally of small size is one reason for this. Farmed shrimps are filling up the vacuum,’’ said Kenny Thomas, MD of Jinny Marine Traders.
Small shrimp lend themselves to many value-added shrimp products. “You can’t make Japanese dish sushi with big shrimps,’’ said Thomas.
Sizes from 50 to even 120 counts are becoming popular. Most of the Southeast Asian countries are focusing more on farming small shrimps and India is now shifting towards this trend.
Exporters said it is a win-win situation as farmers get paid for multiple harvests while they will be able to export more consignments.
India is currently the top supplier of farmed shrimps in the world. Among the shrimps imported by the US, the share of Indian shrimps is 40%.
“The buyers have to pay less as the size is smaller. The farmers, in turn, can increase the number of harvests reducing the risk of diseases. They can also keep the cost of feed down,’’ said Anwar Hashim, managing director of Abad Fisheries.
Experts suggest that producing small shrimps may help augment domestic consumption as the local preference is for lower sizes. “At present, about 42,000 to 45,000 tonnes are absorbed by the local market. If we can double that, there will be less pressure on exports,’’ said S Chandrasekar, president of the Society of Aquaculture Professionals.