Russian Far East producers to tap booming domestic market of shrimp

March 13, 2007 15:18

At recent talks the members of the Russian Far East Shrimpers Association and Moscow-based Agama Company, which is a major shrimp distributor on the domestic market, have agreed to bring shrimp from the Russian Far East to western markets of Russia.

According to chairman of Agama's Board of Directors Yuri Alasheyev, Pacific shrimp harvesters are thus coming forward as the firm's strategic partners.

Now Russia annually imports ca. 60,000 tonnes of shrimps from all over the world, while all the domestic production is exported to the international market. Agama's leader however says they are going to change the situation supplying ca.1000 tonnes of Russian product or 10% of the total volume of shrimp to Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

In the year 2006 Agama imported 9000 tonnes of shrimps for the Russian market. The company made contracts with a great lot of Russian retail outlets and restaurants which are actually main buyers of the marine delicatessen.

As compared to Danish shrimp which is more popular on the Russian market, Pacific (deepwater) shrimp grown in natural habitat is remarkable for its health-giving properties and is regarded a product of high quality both for its biological and organoleptic properties. The demand for northern shrimp has been growing in the recent years. The only obstacle to promote the product on the Russian market is its comparably high price which aspect has to be dealt with separately and in the future Agama is planning to win more than 10% of the Russian market when they improve fishery methods and tactics.

The firm's analytics think it important that the market is now ready to absorb the product from the Russian Far East. For instance, while in 1999 the consumer demand for shrimp in central Russia amounted to ca.6000-7000 tonnes, now the demand is estimated at 50,000-60,000 tonnes. Thus, the Russian market has grown 10-fold and it is now only 5-fold smaller than the world's largest market of Japan consuming 300,000 tonnes of shrimps.

Agama's director says that consumers from the central part of Russia are no longer taken aback by high prices for shrimp. More specifically, the cheapest shrimp costs ca.RUR100 per kilo, while farmed shrimp from Thailand fetches at least RUR400.00 per kilo. At the same time, market analysts say that importers have been facing a rise of demand for expensive high-quality shrimp.

However, not all the shrimp producers based in the Russian Far East are ready to supply their range to the domestic market. The thing is their traditional market is Japan where the strongest demand is observed for raw-frozen shrimp, while Russian consumers prefer cooked-and-frozen shrimp. Thus, in order to produce the range for the domestic market the shrimpers should be fitted with the respective equipment. According to Yuri Alasheyev, three members of the association have already got the necessary equipment and large quotas. Those companies are Kamchatka-based OOO Kammag (ltd), Sakhalin-based Binom Group and Vladivostok-based Istok Group. Agama is ready to make contracts with each of them, claimed the firm's leader Alasheyev. The man says that by the year 2010 the Russian market will consume 100,00-120,000 tonnes of shrimps mainly of expensive grades. Today the shrimp market is one of the fastest growing markets in Russia.

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