The unusual large harvest in March/April caused an oversupply in Asia, when shrimp demand tends to be generally low in international trade


Export prices crashed in April and ex-farm prices fell to cost level in India and other producing countries in Southeast Asia. In international trading, new negotiations between buyers and sellers ceased for almost two months, but the market started to move slowly in July.


The shrimp farming season in 2018 had a positive start in most producing countries in Asia. Unlike previous years, production volume for the first harvest of the season in April was high in India, Indonesia and Viet Nam. Production in China also increased from May onwards.

India’s large harvest in April, consisting mainly of not in medium to smaller sizes, was met with weak demand, particularly in its main market, the United States of America. Consequently, ex-farm shrimp prices dropped drastically, even below production costs. The trends have been similar in Southeast Asia. Production was good in Indonesia, where farm gate prices declined following the regional trend.

The industry association in Viet Nam reported an 11 percent increase in production to 120 000 tonnes during the first quarter of 2018. Ex-farm prices of black tiger and vannamei shrimp in the Mekong Delta dropped abruptly in May due to the high supply. Shrimp imports in Viet Nam slowed down during this period.

In Ecuador, the shrimp industry has been less affected, because March through June was the off-season for farmed shrimp.


During the first quarter of 2018, the top four shrimp exporting countries recorded double-digit growth rates. Indian exports increased by 23 percent, with 47 and 58 percent increases in deliveries to Viet Nam and China, respectively.

Exports from Viet Nam also increased to its top markets (United States of America, EU28, Australia, Canada and China). Ecuador increased its direct exports to China by a substantial 535 percent to 13 500 tonnes but its exports to the top market of Viet Nam increased by only 4 percent to 49 000 tonnes during the review period.

This significant growth in direct exports from India, Ecuador and even Viet Nam to China is a result of China’s strict measures to curb illegal imports through border trade with Viet Nam.


The sharp decline in shrimp prices during the first quarter of 2018 facilitated higher imports in the markets worldwide, except in Japan. In 2018, China took stern measures against illegal border imports of seafood from Viet Nam particularly starting in February after the Chinese New Year. In 2017, an estimated over 300 000 tonnes of shrimp entered the Chinese market from Viet Nam through unreported border trade.

United States of America

Although the market has been holding high stocks since the beginning of 2018, increased production and lower offer prices supported a 16 percent rise in US shrimp imports during the first quarter of 2018 to 155 100 tonnes compared with the same period in 2017. The import value amounted to USD 1.48 billion.

US imports of raw shell-on shrimp (including “easy-peel” shrimp) and peeled shrimp increased by 6 and 23 percent, respectively, year-on-year. Processed shrimp supplies, including the popular breaded products, were also 25 percent higher during this period compared with 2017. During the review period, India was the leading supplier. Imports from India and China increased by 34 and 44 percent, respectively.


Shrimp consumption in Japan during the first three months of the year is generally low. The market has been holding good stocks of raw vannamei and Argentinean shrimp from 2017 imports. Subsequently, Japanese shrimp imports displayed a negative curve during the first quarter of 2018.

Imports of tropical shrimp increased from India and Myanmar, as did imports of coldwater species from Argentina and Greenland. Consumption increased during the Spring festival celebrations in April and May. Successively, imports of raw shrimp from India and Indonesia increased in May.

European Union (Member Organization) 

The EU28 is holding good stocks of vannamei shrimp from Asia and Latin America, particularly from Ecuador, India and Viet Nam. Supplies from Ecuador and India mainly consisted of raw shell-on shrimp and peeled shrimp, whereas 40 percent of the shrimp imported from Viet Nam was processed or value-added products.

During the first three months of 2018, total shrimp imports in the EU28 increased by 7.6 percent at 183 000 tonnes, with 73 percent (133 200 tonnes) from non-member countries.

As of January 2018, all farmed shrimp from India is subject to automatic detention in the EU28 for veterinary inspection because of the antibiotic residue issue in Indian farmed shrimp. This is discouraging many EU28 importers to buy Indian shrimp even at attractive offer prices. Shrimp exports from India to the EU28 have been low in 2018 compared with last year.


The Asian shrimp market remains vibrant in 2018 after a weakening in prices. Increased availability of shrimp at cheaper prices resulted in higher imports in most Asian markets, where shrimp is the most popular seafood. Nearly 40 percent of Indian shrimp exports went to Asia/Pacific markets during the first quarter of 2018, compared to 36 percent in the same period of 2017.

China has emerged as the leading shrimp importing country in the Asia/Pacific region. During the first three months of 2018, direct imports of shrimp by China amounted to 40 000 tonnes, 46 percent more than during the same period in 2017. Imports increased significantly from Ecuador (+302 percent to 7 500 tonnes), India (+62 percent to 3 600 tonnes) and Viet Nam (+93 percent to 2 000 tonnes, with an additional estimated 60 000 tonnes entering through unreported border trade). On 1 December 2017, China reduced its import duty on warm water/tropical shrimp from 5 to 2 percent, as well as the rate of selected species of cold-water prawn from 8 to 5 percent, and also implemented stringent border control, in an effort to reduce illegal shipments through Viet Nam.

The reduction in border trade with China this year has been confirmed by lower Vietnamese shrimp imports. The growth of Vietnamese imports of shrimp declined to 12 percent this year from 40 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Imports from Ecuador reached 49 000 tonnes (+4 percent), while supplies from India amounted to 27 000 tonnes (+47 percent) during the review period. The corresponding import growth was much higher for the first three months in 2017, at 42 percent from Ecuador and 80 percent from India.


In April 2018, shrimp prices collapsed in the international market, decreasing production cost below the cost levels, a phenomenon the shrimp industry has not experienced since 2002. This situation was a result of the unexpected good harvests of farmed shrimp in Asia in April, the high imports and weaker domestic sales in the United States of America during the first quarter of 2018 that caused stock piling. At the end of April ex-farm prices of 50-count head-on vannamei shrimp in India ranged USD 4.05–4.20 per kg, against a corresponding price range of USD 4.89–5.00 per kg in Indonesia.

To stabilize the falling farm-gate prices in March/April, the Department of Fisheries in Thailand collaborated with the Thai Frozen Foods Association to set a minimum price level for shrimp. In a similar effort in India, exporters agreed to pay slightly more to farmers, after the intervention of the state government of Andhra. Nonetheless, farm gate prices in general remained much lower between April and June this year, compared with the last 5–6 years.

The price crash in April in international trade caused a near zero negotiation trade situation among US buyers between May and June, particularly with Indian exporters. Prices bottomed out in June and Indian products started to move but slowly with a 10 percent price rise only in July compared with the price (below the production cost) quoted in April.


India is the second largest producer of farmed shrimp and the largest shrimp exporting country in the world. Therefore, Indian supply and price structure are likely to influence the overall international trade. Although many farmers in the southern provinces of India have adopted a low density and delayed stocking policy to adjust supply, farmers in Odisha, West Bengal and Western Coast have invested heavily on large volume production for the coming peak season, July to October. Therefore, the overall production in India is expected to be stable with good harvests until October/November.

In Southeast Asia, farmers may choose a conservative approach and use lower density to stock ponds in order to correct the current supply/demand imbalance in the market. This may result in better availability of large sizes shrimp.

The production and supply status in Ecuador also needs to be monitored once the season starts in June/July.It is unlikely that the low prices in international trade will end soon. If it does not affect the farmers too much, lower prices will support higher shrimp consumption, particularly in East Asian markets, including China. Shrimp imports are already on the rise in many Southeast Asian markets for domestic consumption.

The same outlook is expected for the US and other large and small markets in the West. If the lower import price trickles down to end consumers, consumption is likely to increase in the western import markets as well. As of the end of June the reported average ex-warehouse price in the United States of America declined by 10 percent, compared with June of last year.

The 2018 summer holiday season in Japan, which is generally a high shrimp consumption season, has been affected by unexpected heavy rain and flood in July. Reportedly, many planned summer holiday trips have been cancelled due to bad weather all over Japan. The situation is likely to impact the shrimp market negatively in July and August.

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