Good demand in Japan
Compared with the same period last year Japanese household consumption of shrimp during January-August increased by 8.3% to 1 309 grams - 100 grams more than the same period during the previous year. Promotional campaigns by supermarkets for black tiger shrimp were effective during the spring and summer festival seasons and retail prices were much lower as a result of the strong yen appreciation against the US dollar. Increased consumption of black tiger shrimp showed that the Japanese prefer black tiger shrimp to farmed vannamei, particularly when it is affordable to average consumers.
Good business was reported during the 2009 year-end festival sales. Compared with headless products, demand was strong for head-on shrimp which are used for New Year celebrations and traditional family dinners at home. However, consumers avoided high quality seafood products and opted for the medium grade seafood including shrimp, which is a sign of conservative spending in the recession hit economy.
In contrast, demand for shrimp in the restaurant business remained dull for the whole of 2009. As a result, demand for value added shrimp products did not recover much in 2009. Demand for sushi ebi from the restaurant market segment was 5-10 % lower than 2008. The catering trade also remained weak on the whole in 2009.
Overall shrimp imports increased marginally, supported by the strong yen, lower landing costs in Japan, reduced retail prices and improved demand from households. Restaurant business remained highly seasonal; the period of brisk demand was also short in the catering trade compared with the other years. In the first nine months of 2009, some 189 000 tonnes were imported in line with 2008 and 2007 imports.