2020 farmed shrimp production declined in Asia but increased in Latin America


Global shrimp trade in 2020 was characterized with good consumption and strong imports in the United States of America, the single largest world market for shrimp. By offering stable supplies at cheaper prices, Ecuador captured a larger shares of the US and European markets. In the second largest market, China, import declines were negligible from Ecuador but significant from Asian sources. Despite strong increases in Ecuadorian production, total world farmed shrimp production declined by 600 000 tonnes. Supply Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, global production of marine farmed shrimp in 2020 was nearly 15 percent lower year-on-year. The decline was 20 percent from Asian sources but production increased by 22 percent in Latin America because of the significant rise in Ecuador’s harvest (+ 19 percent;705 000 tonnes).


Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, global production of marine farmed shrimp in 2020 was nearly 15 percent lower year-on-year. The decline was 20 percent from Asian sources but production increased by 22 percent in Latin America because of the significant rise in Ecuador’s harvest (+ 19 percent; 705 000 tonnes).

This year, the aquaculture season in Asia started in March with positive prospects. In Latin America the main production season was over in February.

Sea-caught shrimp

Amidst COVID-19 challenges in the country, 2020 shrimp catches in Argentina remained below 2019 levels, because of smaller biomass, a delayed catch season and slower processing operations.

International trade


Ecuador overtook India as the top shrimp exporter in 2020. The country had a 6.8 percent rise in annual exports. Moreover, its farmed production increased by a hefty 100 000 tonnes resulting in the cheapest export prices to the world market. Ecuadorian sales to the main market China was only 1 percent lower in 2020 but increased by 52 percent in the United States of America, 23 percent in the European Union and 55 percent in the Russian markets. Indonesia was the only other country reporting increased shrimp exports in 2020.

Most exporting countries needed to adjust market requirements to accommodate the large shifts in consumer demand from HORECA to retail trade, for raw as well as for processed shrimp.


Global shrimp imports declined marginally in 2020 compared with 2019. Strong imports in the United States of America compensated declines in the large markets of China, Japan, Spain, Italy and Southeast Asia.

Combined imports of the top four markets, the European Union, United States of America, China and Japan, were 2.4 percent lower in 2020 than in 2019 at 2.485 million tonnes, with 80-82 percent share of the international shrimp trade.

European Union

Against the backdrop of 2019, shrimp trade in Europe weakened in 2020 although summer demand was better compared with the rest of the period. In the European Union, total imports of shrimp increased marginally (+1.3 percent; 814 825 tonnes) over 2019. Large imports from Ecuador (+23 percent; 131 300 tonnes) compensated supply drops from other sources in the review period.

Supplies from Ecuador increased by two-digits in most of the top markets in the European Union (Spain, France, the Netherlands), but declined in Denmark and Italy. Extra-EU trade: Compared with 2019, the share of extra–EU supply in European total imports remained unchanged at 73 percent (597 595 tonnes). However, processed shrimp imports were lower by 4.5 percent at 106 830 tonnes in 2020. Imports of coldwater shrimp were 23 higher during this period dominated by supplies from Greenland and Canada, while supplies from Argentina fell by 14.8 percent.

Outside the European Union, the Russian Federation was the top market in Europe and imported 45 000 tonnes of raw shrimp (+20 percent ) and 3 500 tonnes of processed shrimp (+48 percent). Raw shrimp supplies in this market increased from Ecuador by 68 percent to 16 100 tonnes and by 77 percent from Greenland to 9 260 tonnes. Viet Nam was the main supplier of processed shrimp (+149 percent to 5 145 tonnes).

Similarly, imports were higher in Ukraine (+47 percent to 12 050 tonnes), dominated by coldwater shrimp (50 percent) from Canada, Greenland, Denmark, and Norway) and 30 percent farmed shrimp. Imports increased in the Swiss market but declined in Norway.

United States of America

The pandemic was a determining factor in the behaviour of the US shrimp market in 2020. Shrimp sales in the foodservice sector were affected by the lockdown measures with the majority of this business operated under "take away". Subsequently demand for the large sized shrimp weakened but medium and small sizes experienced sales boosts in the consolidated retail trade. Moreover, wholesale prices were stable supported by increased supplies from Ecuador at low prices. Total supply of shrimp in the US market was about 5 percent higher in 2020 compared to the previous year with decreased domestic landings and increased imports. According to the US Census Bureau, shrimp imports totalled 747 775 tonnes valued at USD 6.5 billion, up 6.8 percent in volume and 7.4 percent in value compared to 2019. This set a new record for a sixth consecutive year of rising imports.

With lower exports India remained the top supplier while imports increased from Indonesia and Ecuador. The record high imports in 2020 is an extraordinary development in the US market despite the year-long pandemic crisis and tumbling restaurant business. Imports of raw shell-on and processed shrimp increased by 10 and 22 percent respectively. But peeled shrimp imports, a product group generally popular in the catering sector, had a 2.8 percent setback with reduced supplies from all sources but Ecuador (+52 percent; 46 000 tonnes). Imports of processed shrimp in the United States of America increased by 22.6 percent to 179 365 tonnes and held 24 percent share in total shrimp imports during 2020. Demand trend of 2020 also persisted during the first quarter of 2021 and imports increased during January–February of this year.


Taking into account the large domestic production of shrimp and shrinking exports, China is the world’s largest market for this product group. Increasingly, any boost in local demand is met through imports. From the second half of 2020 shrimp demand improved in the market, facilitated by rising e-commerce. Restaurant business also improved in the last quarter of the year when the mid-Autumn festivals helped to reduce inventories of imported shrimp. Monthly imports increased in November and December 2020 to replenish stocks for the Lunar New Year in early 2021. Nonetheless, there was a 100 000 tonnes shortfall (-15 percent) in 2020 annual imports, which were estimated to be 700 000 tonnes (including unreported border trade). Ecuador remained the top supplier despite some transitory restrictions on exports to China. Imports from most other sources declined excluding Greenland, Indonesia and Iran. Consumer demand for shrimp in China also improved during the 2021 Chinese New Year.

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