Apex Foods Limited recorded a 16% growth in shrimp export in the first half of the current fiscal year, while the country's total shrimp export fell by 10.42% during the same period.
Another shrimp exporter Gemini Sea Food saw a sharp fall in its revenue earning during the July-December period of this fiscal.
Both the companies that are listed on the stock exchanges, however, managed to get over Covid-19 pandemic shocks.
Apex Foods Ltd and Gemini Sea Food Ltd – pioneers in shrimp export – were awarded the national export trophy several times.
According to an official of Apex Foods Limited, in spite of the fall in the overall national shrimp exports, their company achieved an expected growth.
He attributed the growth to more value addition to the product by the company as per its customers' requirement.
Apex Foods was the top exporter of frozen foods in FY12 and FY14.
In the first half of the 2020-21 financial year, the company's shrimp export stood at Tk148.19 crore. It also posted Tk0.70 as earnings per share, which was 7% higher than that in the previous year.
In this period, the country's total shrimp export stood at Tk165.32 crore.
Gemini Sea Food
Gemini Sea Food Limited, another local exporter of shrimp, was never able to keep up growth in shrimp exports.
In the first half of the current fiscal, the company managed to earn only Tk6.76 crore through shrimp export. At that time, it faced a net loss of Tk3.71 crore and its loss per share was Tk7.92.
The company auditor said in 2019-20 financial statement, Gemini Sea Food was found to underutilise its production capacity and incurred an increased cumulative loss in the year ended on 30 June 2020. The financial figure indicates that the company's future is now uncertain.
Countrywide shrimp export picture
Even though the global shrimp market has been expanding, Bangladesh is losing its position gradually.
Exporters said the country's export position has been shrinking as the high-priced Bangladeshi shrimp sale yields to the low-priced hybrid Whiteleg shrimp.
The country now holds a 2% global market share, down from 4% five years ago, according to Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association.
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in its assessment report said the global demand for shrimp is on the rise.
In 2014, the demand for shrimp was 43 lakh tonnes, which rose to 48 lakh tonnes till November last year.
Whiteleg shrimp is a low-priced but high-yielding hybrid variety that has captured the global market, which was earlier occupied by other varieties of shrimp and prawn – most notably the black tiger variety of shrimp.
India, Vietnam, Thailand and some other countries have gotten huge success by farming Whiteleg shrimp.
"Our competitor countries are far ahead of us in exporting Whiteleg shrimp whereas we are stuck to high-priced prawn cultivation," said Kazi Belayet Hossain, president, Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association.
He further said Whiteleg shrimp captured 77% of the global export market, while prawn only 11%.
Entrepreneurs said in September last year, the Department of Fisheries gave permission to two farms – Shushilan, a non-governmental organisation in Khulna, and MUC Foods in Jashore – to start a pilot cultivation of Vannamei Shrimp.
They were supposed to cultivate the variety in the Paikgachha area of Khulna but have not yet started.
Kazi Belayet Hossain said earlier, it was not possible to cultivate the Vannamei variety because water did not have its required salinity.
"The next season will start in February 2021. We are working on starting our farming after February," he added.
Shrimp is being cultivated on around 2,58,681 hectares of land in the south and southwestern and southern eastern parts of Bangladesh.