Strong imports in East Asia and the United States of America kept global shrimp trade firm


The report analyses the market situation until September 2017

The moderate increase in global farmed shrimp production was balanced with large imports in China, Viet Nam, the United States of America, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Export price was stable throughout 2017.


The official 2017 data for farmed shrimp production have not been published yet. However, aquaculture industry analysts, including shrimp feed producers, indicated moderate increases in farmed shrimp production during the review period.  The major producers were China, India, Ecuador, Viet Nam and Indonesia with varied trends.

Production in China did not recover since the EMS disease occurrence in 2012. The preliminary estimate suggested 10–20 percent reduction in Chinese farmed shrimp production in 2017, compared with 600 000 tonnes harvested in 2016. Poor quality broodstock and seed coupled with the extreme hot weather affected shrimp aquaculture in the main producing regions of Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi. Increased production in the northern region was inadequate to offset the overall supply deficit, while domestic demand surged. Subsequently, imports increased in the first nine months of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016.

India reported a production of farmed shrimp of about 500 000 tonnes during the review period, compared with the 400 000 tonnes in 2016. The estimated production in Ecuador was 400 000 tonnes, some 14 percent higher than in the equivalent period in 2016.

According to the Viet Nam News Agency, farmed shrimp production in 2017 totalled 237 000 tonnes in Viet Nam.

The 2017 production in Thailand is likely lower than the earlier forecast of 330 000 tonnes. Affected by unfavourable weather and shrimp health issues, production in Indonesia and Bangladesh also suffered which was reflected in the declining shrimp exports from these countries.

Argentina recorded bumper sea catches of shrimp that exceeded 200 000 tonnes during the first three quarters of 2017.


During the first three quarters of 2017, exports increased from India, Viet Nam, Ecuador and China compared with the same period in 2016, but declined from Thailand because of supply constraints.

In India, strong demand from North American and East Asian markets supported higher shrimp exports at 420 500 tonnes (+33 percent), making India the top world exporter of shrimp. During the January-September 2017 period the average monthly exports ranged from 47 000 to 50 000 tonnes, mostly raw shell-on and peeled shrimp. The top destinations were the United States of America, Viet Nam, the EU28, Japan and the United Arab Emirates; exports also increased to China and the Republic of Korea.

Vietnamese exports were estimated at 390 000 tonnes (+11 percent) during January-September 2017, comprising domestic shrimp and imported raw materials. The top market was China, with a 50–60 percent share of the total exports (200 000 to 230 000 tonnes), which was 25 percent more than in the same period in 2016. The other top markets were the United States of America (-7 percent), the EU28 (+14 percent), Japan (+19 percent) and the Republic of Korea (+11 percent). Viet Nam is a leading exporter of value-added shrimp to Japan, the United States of America and the EU28.

Ecuadorian shrimp exports (323 655 tonnes) increased by 17 percent during January-September 2017, due to the increased sales to Asian markets, namely Viet Nam (+37 percent at 162 165 tonnes), China (+42 percent at 13 000 tonnes), the Republic of Korea (+42 percent at 6 300 tonnes), while exports to the EU28 (-2 percent at 70 200 tonnes) and the United States of America (-1.3 percent at 54 900 tonnes) declined marginally.

Compared with the corresponding period in 2016, Chinese exports grew only slightly (+1.5 percent, totalling 137 730 tonnes) during the review period, due to the decline in raw shrimp exports (-5 percent). Around 52 percent of the total shrimp exports (71 000 tonnes) were value-added products, in part produced from imported raw material.

In Thailand, total shrimp exports, of which 46 percent consisted of value-added products, fell by 10 percent. Raw material shortage affected exports to the main market, the United States of America. Supplies to the EU28 declined significantly since the withdrawal of the preferential tariff or Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) on Thai products.

Indonesian exports decreased to the United States of America, Japan and Europe, during the review period. Exports from Bangladesh also dropped, whereas Malaysian exports increased (+9 percent at 27 000 tonnes).

In Latin America, shrimp exports increased in Honduras (+4 percent at 42 300 tonnes) and Mexico (+15 percent at 15 000 tonnes), but declined in Nicaragua (-32 percent at 15 260 tonnes).

Argentina, one of the leading suppliers of sea-caught shrimp, reported a 16 percent export growth at 44 950 tonnes, due to the increased exports to the United States of America, Japan, Viet Nam, Thailand, the Russian Federation, even though exports dropped to the large markets EU28 and China (-15 percent each).


The positive trend in global shrimp trade during the first three quarters of 2017 was due to the strong imports in East Asian markets namely Viet Nam, China (Mainland and Taiwan Province), and the Republic of Korea. There were also increased imports in the two large markets of the United States of America and Japan (+6 percent each). Imports also increased in Canada (+10 percent at 34 300 tonnes) and Mexico (+19 percent at 17 000 tonnes).

The 9 percent rise in the EU28 shrimp imports could be attributed to the increased intra-EU28 trade, while the extra-EU28 imports declined by the same percentage. Outside the EU28, imports increased in Norway, Switzerland and the Russian Federation.

China and Viet Nam remained the attractive markets to shrimp producers and exporters worldwide. During the review period, total supply of foreign shrimp to China increased significantly, while imports were high in Vietnam. Although the United States of America and the EU28 remained the largest import markets, East Asian markets mostly absorbed the additional production in Asia and Latin America during the first nine months of 2017.


Consumer demand for shrimp in Japan seemed to be recovering after many years, which reflected on higher imports during the first nine months of 2017 (+6 percent at 163 545 tonnes). The market continued to import more value-added products, reaching a 27 percent share of the total shrimp imports during the review period. Imports increased from Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia and China. A major share of Japanese raw shrimp imports consisted of semi-processed nobashi or peeled tail-on shrimp, butterfly cut and other types of peeled shrimp used by the catering trade and also in households. There was also a strong demand for top quality head-on shrimp (large size farmed black tiger and sea caught shrimp) at the high-end catering trade.

Shrimp consumption was good during the end of the year festivities with a business increase in the catering trade.

United States of America

Shrimp remained the most preferred seafood in the United States of America, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Per capita consumption in 2016 increased by 2.5 percent at 4.10 lb compared with 2015. This trend is likely to continue as supplies of domestic and imported shrimp were record-high in 2017, supported by strong consumer demand. US consumers experienced increased disposable income in 2017 backed by the rebound of the national economy.

The average retail price of shrimp in 2017 was stable and lower than other popular seafood such as salmon. During January-September 2017, the average import price of shrimp increased by 5.15 percent, whereas the average retail price of shrimp was 3–4 percent higher than 2016.

Shrimp imports increased by 9.6 percent in volume during the review period compared with 2016, while the value rose by 15 percent to USD 4.5 billion. Imports of raw shell-on remained the same as in 2016, but increased for peeled, breaded and other processed shrimp.

India marked a 42 percent increase in exports to the US market. This top seller compensated for the supply declines from Indonesia (-3 percent), Ecuador (-1.4 percent), Thailand and Viet Nam (-7 percent each). Imports from China increased by 39 percent during the review period.

European Union (Member Organization)

Shrimp imports in the EU28 totalled 547 000 tonnes during the review period. Extra-EU28 imports dropped by 4 percent, totalling 403 800 tonnes, during January-September 2017, which could be an indication of a weaker demand trend in this market. The intra-EU28 imports were mostly re-exports of shrimp sourced from non-member countries.

Imports declined in most of the top markets during the assessment period. Spain imported 111 675 tonnes (-1 percent), followed by France with 79 180 tonnes (-2 percent), Denmark with 8 235 tonnes (-4 percent), the United Kingdom with 55 870 tonnes (-3 percent), the Netherlands with 50 135 tonnes (-18 percent) and Italy with 45 880 tonnes (-9 percent). Except from Viet Nam, Bangladesh and Venezuela, supplies declined from most the sources. During the Christmas season, consumer demand remained low confirming a weaker shrimp market in 2017.

Outside the EU28, there were increased shrimp imports in Norway (+31 percent at 13 700 tonnes) and in Switzerland (+10 percent at 6 000 tonnes). In the Russian Federation, imports increased by 23 percent at 26 000 tonnes, with larger supplies from Greenland, India, China, Ecuador, Argentina and Bangladesh.


The lower domestic production, strong local demand and strong prices compared with 2015 and 2016, attracted large volumes of farmed shrimp to China from Asia and Latin America. Direct shrimp imports to China declined marginally (-0.25 percent) during the first nine months of 2017 (76 100 tonnes) compared with the same period in 2016. However, imports increased from Canada (+37 percent at 20 331 tonnes), Ecuador (+12 percent at 12 498 tonnes), India (+50 percent at 7 811 tonnes) and Greenland (+133 percent at 7 872 tonnes). Official imports from Viet Nam were only 950 tonnes. Taking into account the large import volume from Viet Nam to China through border trade,

Total shrimp imports in China during this period are estimated to be 275 000 to 300 000 tonnes from Viet Nam alone, including the large volume that is imported through border trade from Viet Nam to China.

Viet Nam has emerged as the number one importer of shrimp in Asia, with 60–70 percent of imports being re-exported to China through border trade. During the first three quarters of 2017, nearly 320 000 tonnes of shrimp were imported in Viet Nam, 40 percent more than in the same period in 2016. Around 90 percent of these imports were supplied by Ecuador, India and Thailand.

The Republic of Korea also reported strong imports from Viet Nam (+11 percent at 27 100 tonnes), Ecuador (+35 percent at 6 456 tonnes), Thailand (+20 percent at 4 845 tonnes) and India (+16 percent at 1 610 tonnes). Still, the total imports were reduced by 4 percent compared to 2016, because of the 70 percent supply deficit from China. 

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