Ecuadorian shrimp farmer Omarsa is seeing its sales to China grow dramatically, with more to come.
The company generated $110 million in turnover in 2012, with 40% of this coming from China, said Sandro Coglitore, its managing director.
In 2011, the company generated turnover of $86m, with only 10% coming from China.
As for 2013, Coglitore is eyeing sales of between $120m-$125m, with more coming from Asia.
Sales to China and also Korea are likely to become a bigger percentage of turnover this year, he told Undercurrent News.
At the same time, sales to Europe and the US are becoming a smaller percentage of turnover, he said.
Sales to Europe comprised 42% of turnover in 2011, but slipped to 27% in 2012.
Similarly, the US market made up 28% of sales in 2011, but was 19% in 2012.
2012 was a “very positive year” for the company, in which it expanded its farming area and invested in its processing plant.
“We have invested in 175 hectares of new farms, to offset about 100 hectares we are returning to reforestation program of mangrove so at the end we will be a little bit over 3,000 hectares again,” Coglitore told Undercurrent.
“Also we built a 1,000 pallet coldstorage , expanded a new de-heading area with three graders and are installing a brine spray freezing tunnel, with an investment of about $5 million.”
In terms of the overall performance of the Ecuadorian business, it had a stable year, with solid prices and an increase of around 15% in production.
The disease problems are “definitely” understated by Thai and Vietnamese producers, he said.
“Lots of new customers are calling and visiting. Everybody wants to have a foot in Ecuador.”
For 2013, the company plans more growth in value-added products and to diversify more in terms of products and markets.
Omarsa has long been a champion of organic and certified shrimp and 2013 could be a big year on demand, “as disease seems to be affecting also some of the other organic producers in the world”, he said.
Demand on Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and Global Gap certified shrimp is also looking good for 2013, said Coglitore.
However, a cloud on the horizon for Ecuador is the possible loss of its preferential tariff rates for export into the EU.
On this, Coglitore said he hopes the government of Ecuador “comes to its senses” and gets back to negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU.