Shrimp market bleak


Global production of farmed shrimp during the first half of 2023 has been impacted by increased production costs not compensated by the markets, falling ex-farm and import prices. Despite the low price trend, demand for shrimp in the traditional western markets and also in Japan and Australia  failed to improve despite a real boost in consumer demand.


In most parts of Asia, the new shrimp farming season started in February/March. Harvests during the first half of the year were low to moderate in the producing countries.

Production of farmed vannamei in Ecuador remained stable in the first half of the year while the target is to produce 1.5 million tonnes (+15 percent) in the whole of 2023.   

International Trade

Shrimp trade during the first half of 2023 was characterised with record high imports in China, going over the half a million tonnes mark, but falling consumer demand and imports in the western markets of North America and Europe. Imports also declined in Japan and Australia.

Shrimp farming countries, too, imported raw shrimp in order to keep the processing well supplied. During January-June 2023, raw frozen shrimp imports in Thailand doubled at 15 000 tonnes to compensate for lower production of domestic shrimp. The estimated imports in Viet Nam were nearly 31 000 tonnes during this period, mostly imported from India.  


During the January-March 2023 review period, Ecuador, the top supplier of shrimp in the international market, exported 295 518 tonnes (+24 percent) of shrimp worth USD 1 617 million. The value gain, however, was lower at 5 percent associated with falling shrimp prices worldwide. China was Ecuador’s top market during this period with a 64 percent share in total exports in comparison with 56 percent one year ago.

Overall exports from India increased during the first quarter of 2023 associated with higher sales to China, Viet Nam, and Japan, while exports to its top market, the United States of America, declined.   


Overall there was weakening of the global economy along with inflation worldwide. Consumer demand for shrimp weakened particularly in the western markets during the first quarter of 2023. During this period combined imports in the top five markets (the United States of America, China, the European Union, Japan and the Republic of Korea) were 21 percent lower year-on-year at 675 000 tonnes. In the individual market, imports only increased in China during this period.

Preliminary data from January-June 2023 also placed China as the top importer of shrimp in the global market with a 46.5 percent rise in imports year-on-year at 538 430 tonnes. During this period, imports in the United States of America, European Union, Japan and many more conventional markets fell below last year’s same review period.   


Since the first quarter of 2023, China has taken over the position of the top importer in the global shrimp market. During this period, imports were 33.5 percent higher at 254 230 tonnes compared with the same period in 2022.

Ecuador was the leading supplier with a 43 percent rise in year-on-year supply during this period and held 70 percent market share (179 015 tonnes). Imports of the popular head-on shrimp from Ecuador were three times higher at 30 000 tonnes.   

India, the second largest supply source, had a 10 percent market share in the Chinese imports followed by Canada, Argentina and Thailand. Imports from Canada declined by 2.6 percent during this period but increased significantly from Argentina (+205 percent at 6 950 tonnes). Supplies increased from Thailand (+16.7 percent at 5 470 tonnes) and largely consisted of the popular head-on shrimp. Imports also rose from Saudi Arabia by 231 percent at 4 745 tonnes.

Strong imports continued in China during the second quarter of 2023 when half-yearly imports exceeded half a million tonnes (+46.5 percent; 538 430 tonnes) with increased supplies from Ecuador, India, Argentina, Canada, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia. However, imports from Viet Nam declined by 73 percent.

United States of America 

Shrimp remains the most favoured seafood consumed by Americans. A study conducted by the National Fisheries Institute with data from 2021 showed increases in per capita shrimp consumption by almost one pound from the previous year at 2.67 kg.  

However, import trends show that as of March 2023, total shrimp imports in the market reached 11 consecutive months of decline. Compared with the same period in 2022, cumulative imports during the first quarter of 2023 were 18.3 percent lower at 180 915 tonnes consisting of 66 920 tonnes of raw shell-on shrimp, 82 925 tonnes of raw peeled shrimp, 14 300 tonnes of breaded shrimp and 23 875 tonnes of other value added/processed shrimp under the HS code 1605. Shrimp imports declined for all product types and from all sources but Ecuador. India remained the top supplier but with a 17.7 percent reduction in exports to its top market. Preliminary data from January-June posted an 18 percent reduction in shrimp imports in the United States of America with reduced supplies from all sources in Asia and Latin America.


Affected by high inflation, consumer demand for shrimp throughout Europe is weak this year in the retail and restaurant trade in comparison with last year. Imports during first and second quarter were lower in the large European Union market despite the soft price trends in the international trade.

Imports in the European Union declined by 11.65 percent at 179 330 tonnes  during January-March 2023 against the same period one year ago. Among the  top five markets, imports were barely stable at last year’s levels in Spain and Italy and declined in France, Denmark, and Germany. Imports in the Netherlands were 28 percent lower due to weaker demand within the EU markets.

In comparison with 2022, imports from non-EU sources in the Common Market were 2.4 percent lower at 162 767 tonnes. Among the top supply sources, imports were steady from Ecuador and Argentina but declined from India, Viet Nam and Bangladesh.     


In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, imports during the first quarter of 2023 weakened against the previous year (-14.7 percent ; 16 565 tonnes) with lower supplies from Viet Nam, India and Ecuador but increased imports from Iceland and Bangladesh. Forty percent of these imports were value added shrimp products.

In the Russian Federation, shrimp imports recovered marginally during January-March 2023 at 16 000 tonnes and  ncreased significantly by June at 31 715 tonnes (+180 percent) in view of increased demand in the summer months.

Demand remained weak in the high value Swiss market with reduced imports (- 13 percent ; 1 935 tonnes ) during the first quarter of 2023.


Consumer demand for shrimp remained disappointing in Japan despite the opening of business in the restaurant trade. Total imports of shrimp during the first quarter of 2023 reached a five-year low at 41 925 tonnes with a steep decline in imports for value added shrimp (-17 percent ;12 645 tonnes) against the same period last year.  

Others in Asia-Pacific

In Asia Far East and Pacific, shrimp imports increased during the first quarter of 2023 in Hong Kong SAR by 6 percent at 10 600 tonnes and 29 percent in Malaysia (11 400 tonnes) but declined in Australia (-20 percent at 7 371 tonnes) and Taiwan (Province of China). In Southeast Asia’s domestic markets, demand for fresh shrimp remains stable at firm prices throughout the year. 


The benchmark farm gate prices of vannamei shrimp for 60 pc per kilogramme in June 2023 were record low at USD 3.83 in Viet Nam, USD 2.88 in India, USD 3.62 in Indonesia and USD 2.20 in Ecuador.

In the international trade, frozen shrimp prices stopped falling from mid-year but have not moved up enough for farmers in Asia to increase production during the last half of the year.

In the United States of America, wholesale prices of shrimp are showing a pattern between “stable” and “weak”. Although US shrimp imports have been declining for several months, it appears that there are still excess inventories of some origins and some sizes. In addition, interest rates are rising; cold storage availability is limited, with higher storage prices. Consumer confidence is low in the market affecting prices across the supply sources.  At the same time, it is unclear how much further prices can fall before some shrimp farmers decide not to stock their ponds.

In Argentina shrimp prices went down by EUR 0.10 per kg between July and August for all sizes but the big size, for which prices stayed stable. As a result, the large sized shrimp (10-20 pc per kg) were sold at EUR 0.80 per kg more than the next size (20-30 pc per kg).


Farmed shrimp production in Asia is expected to slow down during the second half of 2023 as demand from large western markets remains weak and buyer offer prices are lower than farmer production costs. On the other hand, Ecuador, the top producer and exporter of vannamei shrimp, continues to pursue its production target of 1.5 million in 2023. Monthly exports to China, its top market, increased during January-July 2023 albeit at prices lower than previous years.  

During the first half of 2023, international trade for shrimp remained weak even at low prices in comparison with 2022. Excluding China, imports declined in most of the markets in North America and Europe affected by inflation and reduced disposable income for luxury seafood like shrimp. Overall demand in these markets are expected to be seasonally low after the end of summer holiday season  in August. 

Shrimp consumption is expected to increase significantly in China’s hotel, restaurant and catering (HORECA) sector during the mid-Autumn festivals and Golden Week holidays from 29 September to 8 October 2023. Domestic tourism is already back to the 2019 level and the market holds large stocks of imported shrimp to cater to this high demand period. During January-July 2023, shrimp imports in China were 632 550 tonnes, 46 percent higher than the previous year.  

The United States of America ceased to be one of the main driving forces in the international shrimp trade while some analysts see difficult times ahead which may impact the shrimp market. If demand declines and the strong import trend continues, downward pressure on US wholesale prices could be registered in the short term. With the stock market in decline, the dramatic increase in fuel prices, inflation and additional costs on logistics, the consumer market will suffer as shrimp is not an everyday purchase item and relies on extra disposable income.

The high inflation rates reduced demand for the popular but expensive seafood like shrimp among European consumers. Unlike the previous year, summer demand weakened in the HORECA sector of the European market in 2023.

In Japan, consumer demand in the market is unlikely to improve before the year-end high consumption period during end December/early January.

Share this page