Thailand’s CP Group eyes opening U.S. shrimp farm

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By Milthon Lujan

Thailand’s largest agro-industrial conglomerate CP Group said it is considering opening a shrimp farm in the United States as America seeks to become less reliant on seafood imports.

“It’s an important project for us,” said Prasit Boondoungprasert, Chief Executive Officer of Charoen Pokphand Foods, part of CP Group. “We sent a team to go live there, study the market and the law, and find a suitable location.”

China, India, and Thailand are among the top shrimp producers and exporters in the world. Thailand is the leader in exports to the United States, which is the world’s largest market for shrimp. The U.S. imports 95 percent of the shrimp it consumers, and one-fifth of those imports come from Thailand. Trade analysts say the global market for shrimp is worth $45 billion a year and is growing.

Among the locations CP is considering for the shrimp farm is the state of Florida. The potential project has the support of the host country, according to CP executives.

“The U.S. government really wants this to happen because it wants to create local jobs,” Prasit said.

He added that a pilot shrimp farm project could be operational by next year, and if all goes well, it would be expanded.

CP Group has been making other investments in the United States. In 2016, the firm bought Bellisio Foods Inc., maker of Chili’s At Home and Boston Market frozen foods, for about $1.1 billion.

Other Thai food sector firms have also been entering the U.S. market, deepening economic integration between the two countries. Thai Union Inc., the world’s largest tuna processor. Thai Union Group, the world’s largest tuna processor, bought a state in Red Lobster restaurants, the most popular seafood restaurant chain in the U.S., for $575 million, also in 2016.

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Source: Royal Thai Embassy – USA

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