After suffering a big blow due to Covid-19, 100% export-oriented shrimp processors and exporters are now optimistic as shrimp exports slightly rose in the January-March period of the current fiscal year amid the pandemic.
Listed shrimp exporters - Gemini Sea Food and Apex Foods - returned to profit in this period after incurring huge losses in the same period of the previous financial year.
Revenue and profit of Apex Foods rose in the first nine months of the 2020-21 fiscal year. On the other hand, Gemini Sea Foods earned profit only in the January-March quarter but faced losses considering the figures of the first nine months overall compared to the same period of the previous year.
AFM Nazrul Islam, company secretary of Gemini Sea Foods, told The Business Standard shrimp exports had come to a standstill due to the pandemic.
He said the situation had improved slightly but was not rosy yet, adding his company had returned to profit as exports had risen.
Kamrul Islam, company secretary of Apex Foods, said business was getting better after the slowdown caused by Covid-19 and exports had risen a little.
Industry sources said processed shrimp exports had fallen during the pandemic as well as in recent years and Bangladeshi black tiger shrimp had lost its competitiveness in the world market due to aggressive marketing of the vannamei variety.
Vannamei is now a leading item in the global shrimp market because of its cheaper price and consumers' preference in Europe and the US - the key markets of frozen shrimp.
Vannamei's commercial farming is yet to start in Bangladesh. It is produced on a very large scale in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.
According to the latest annual financial statement of Gemini Sea Foods, Bangladesh's shrimp industry has long been playing a significant role in the national economy. There are 162 fish processing plants in the country, out of which 78 are approved by the Bangladesh government and 66 by the European Union (EU).
Gemini returns to profit from losses
Gemini Sea Foods has been the pioneer in exporting certified organic shrimp from Bangladesh to EU retailers since 2008. It processes, packages, and exports quality frozen raw shrimp, cooked shrimp, and white fish.
It exports its products to the US and the EU countries, such as the UK, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Russia.
In the third quarter of FY21, it returned to profit from losses. In this period, its profit was Tk73.36 lakh while its earnings per share (EPS) stood at Tk1.69.
During the same period of the previous year, it incurred a loss of Tk2.5 crore while its loss per share was Tk5.34 due to Covid-19.
The company said its quarterly earnings had increased mainly due to the increase in export revenue and the low cost of purchased raw materials.
According to its financial data, in the first nine months of FY21, it incurred a loss of Tk2.92 crore and its loss per share was Tk6.23 compared to the same period of the previous year.
In this period of FY20, its net loss was Tk2.22 crore and the loss per share was Tk4.74.
Nazrul said the company had a good reputation in the past but the pandemic had put it in a crisis.
The management is aware that it needs to overcome the challenges, he said.
"Shrimp farming was hampered by the pandemic. Our foreign clients' demand for products also decreased because of the crisis. Moreover, Bangladeshi shrimps are losing competitiveness in the global market."
Apex Foods sees 7% revenue jump
Apex Foods is the single largest processor and exporter of frozen seafood in Bangladesh. It also has one of the most modern seafood processing plants in Asia, equipped with the latest processing, freezing, and storage machinery.
Its products are exported to North America, the EU, Australia, and Russia.
According to its latest financial statement, in the first nine months of FY21, the company's revenue grew by 7% due to the increase in exports. As a result, the company returned to profit from losses in the previous financial year.
In the July-March period, it made a profit of Tk70.29 lakh while its earnings per share (EPS) stood at Tk1.23.
The company incurred a loss of Tk2.61 crore while its loss per share was Tk4.58 in the same period of the previous year.
In the January-March period, it posted 15% lower revenue than the same period of the previous year but made a profit of Tk30.34 lakh. In this period of the previous year, it recorded a loss of Tk2.59 crore.