Strong demand in China upholds global shrimp trade in 2023


The shrimp aquaculture industry has been effected worldwide by increased production costs, falling farm-gate prices as well as in the international trade and weak demand in large conventional markets during the first half of 2023. This trend continued during the third quarter of the year. 


Significant weakening in farm-gate and export prices forced Asian farmers to lower their stocking density and caused lower production in 2023 compared with 2022.

In India, demand for vannamei seeds declined by 35 percent during the 2023   aquaculture season as farmers reduced stocking density in their ponds. The trend was similar among farmers in Southeast Asia and in China, where stable domestic and regional markets for fresh shrimp are absorbing some supplies at better prices in comparison with frozen shrimp prices in the export trade. 

Among the five leading producers of farmed shrimp, annual production in Ecuador is forecast  to reach 1.5 million tonnes and surpassed one million tonnes in China (supported by domestic demand) during 2023. However, there were supply short falls in India and Viet Nam by 12-15 percent and in Indonesia by 5 percent year-on-year which are mirrored by falling exports of vannamei shrimp in particular from these countries during January-August 2023.         

In comparison, the production status for black tiger shrimp was better in Viet Nam, China, India and Indonesia during this period.

Farmed shrimp harvest may reach 5 million tonnes in Asia and 1.8 million tonnes in Latin America during the 2023 production season.

International Trade

After the stable trade flow during the three-year pandemic crisis, the shrimp aquaculture industry and trade entered a turbulent period of reduced production, tumbling market prices and waning demand. Shrimp imports declined in most of the developed markets during January-June 2023. The weak market trend continued during the third quarter of the year.  


Shrimp exports during January-June  2023 increased from Ecuador and remained steady in China but weakened from India, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Argentina year-on-year.

During this period Ecuador was the only country that sustained a 17 percent export growth at 606 049 tonnes, mainly through increased sales to its top market China, that held 61 percent share in total exports. Exports of head-on shrimp from Ecuador also increased by 23 percent during this period at over 90 000 tonnes.  China was the top  market (70 percent) and exports also increased to the United States of America and European Union.

For India, the second largest exporter, the supply gap with Ecuador widened during the review period at 257 000 tonnes while overall exports were 2.72 percent lower than the same period in 2022 at 325 270 tonnes. Exports of raw frozen shrimp (shell-on and peeled) remained almost the same as last year’s level (296 700 tonnes) from India but declined significantly for processed shrimp (-30 percent at 22 100 tonnes) due to tumbling demand in the top markets of the United States of America and Canada.

Viet Nam had the largest reduction in volume exports (-45 percent at 108 800 tonnes) during January-June 2023 against the same period in 2022. Nearly 53 percent of these were processed shrimp (60 000 tonnes) for which demand weakened in the leading markets (United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the European Union, and Australia).

Exports of processed shrimp from Indonesia, Thailand, and China to the global market ranged from 30 to 60 percent in total exports in these countries. Reduced demand for processed shrimp in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia during January-June 2023 also squeezed overall export earnings in these countries. 


Since the last quarter of 2022, China has continued to support global shrimp trade with increased imports while demand remains weak in the conventional developed markets worldwide.

During the first half of 2023, cumulative imports of shrimp in the top seven markets showed a 1.88 rise at 1.46 million tonnes credited exclusively to the 46.5 percent increase by  China. Imports in the United States of America, the European Union, Japan and other conventional markets declined in comparison with the previous year’s same period.

Preliminary import data on January-September 2023 also placed China as the top importer of shrimp in the global market with a 23 percent rise in imports  year-on-year.


Imports remained steady in the world’s largest shrimp market during the first half of 2023 with steady monthly imports ranging from 80 000 to 90 000 tonnes. Cumulative imports during January-June in 2023 exceeded 500 000 tonnes, which was 46.5 percent higher than the same period in 2022. Imports of both tropical and cold-water shrimp increased during this period. Supplies increased from the top sources namely Ecuador, India, Argentina, Canada, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and also from others but declined from Viet Nam.

Ecuador, the leading exporter of shrimp to China, increased the market share to 67 percent which compares to 60.5 percent a year ago. Imports of the popular head-on shrimp increased from Ecuador by 72 percent at 62 570 tonnes during the review period. Head-on shrimp imports also increased from Thailand during this period.

China reactivated purchases of Argentine shrimp by 270 percent at 15 800 tonnes during this period that compensated the 16 percent export short fall of Argentine shrimp to its largest client - Spain.

The strong import trend continued in the market during July-September 2023 in order to secure supplies for the week long mid-autumn festivals and National Day celebration in October. Cumulative imports during January-September were 23 percent higher than the previous year at 814 166 tonnes with increased  supplies from most sources except India.

The Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day Holiday in China celebrated in October 2023, witnessed a remarkable surge in consumption (including shrimp) and tourism, and generated brisk business in the hotel, restaurant and catering (HORECA) sector throughout the country. The capital city, Beijing, received 6.28 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 60.6 percent and a 31.8 percent more compared to 2019. The festivals boosted consumption in the catering sector, supporting the shrimp trade in China.

United States of America 

The possible recession is impacting the US economy, and keeping consumer demand for shrimp dormant. It is a difficult time to sell shrimp in the US market, as wholesale prices show no signs of significant improvement. A drop in consumer demand was seen as they turned to cheaper proteins such as chicken and pork. As a result, several restaurant chains had to rely on summer offerings to boost sluggish shrimp sales.

US shrimp imports continued the downward trend and fell for 11 consecutive months. Compared with the same period in 2022, imports during the first half of  2023 were 18 percent lower at 361 420 tonnes  consisting of 109 100 tonnes of raw shell-on shrimp, 171 910 tonnes of raw peeled shrimp, 27 135 tonnes of breaded shrimp and 48 450 tonnes of other types of processed shrimp. The import value during this period declined by 28.7 percent at USD 2.99 billion, while the unit value decreased by 13 percent against the same period in 2022. Imports were down for all product types of shrimp and from all sources.  

Imports in January-August 2023 also registered a 13 percent decline at 504 550 tonnes; supplies decreased from all sources in Asia and Latin America.

In another development , the US International Trade Commission (USITC) decided to maintain antidumping tariffs on shrimp from India, China, Thailand and Viet Nam in its latest review.


Unlike the last two years, consumer demand for shrimp during the summer months was dormant in the European catering and retail trade affected by inflation, increased cost of living and reduced disposable income. Despite the soft price trend for shrimp in the international trade, demand in most of the EU markets has been lackluster.

Overall weakening in the EU shrimp trade continued during the first half of 2023 with a 9 percent fall in imports at 374 180 tonnes. The decline in extra-EU imports was higher (-10 percent at 264 795 tonnes) during this period with reduced imports from Ecuador, India, Greenland and Viet Nam but steady imports from Argentina. Import shortfalls were higher for processed shrimp (-20 percent at 51 200 tonnes) during this period. 

Others in Europe

In 2023, consumer demand for shrimp seems to have increased in the Russian Federation; imports during January-June 2023 increased by 166 percent reaching nearly 35 000 tonnes. Imports increased from Ecuador, India, Argentina, and Iran. Imports also increased in Ukraine during this period.

However, the weak trends in consumer demand continued in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and also in Switzerland during the review period.   


Shrimp consumption was seasonally low in June throughout Japan but improved during the school holiday period in July and August, which elevated business in the HORECA sector. Nonetheless, imports during the first half of 2023 were at a five year low of 87 640 tonnes; Viet Nam, Indonesia, India and Thailand were the top suppliers but with falling exports.

The share of raw shrimp in total shrimp imports increased at 55 930 tonnes  during this period in favour of India (+44 percent), Ecuador and Bangladesh but declined from 34 to 31.5 percent year-on-year at 27 650 tonnes for processed shrimp, generally imported from Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia and China.

Others in Asia-Pacific

Australia is an important market for value-added shrimp from Viet Nam and Thailand; there was a 21 percent decline in total shrimp imports during January-June 2023. Imports in New Zealand during this period were stable at 3 000 tonnes.

In Asia Far East, the Republic of Korea was the third largest importer for shrimp after China and Japan, buying 40 000 tonnes during January-June.

Shrimp imports also weakened in Taiwan (Province of China), Hong Kong SAR, Singapore, but increased in Malaysia for local consumption and export processing.   

Imports of frozen raw material for export processing were close to last year’s level at 31 300 tonnes in Viet Nam and increased by 116 percent in Thailand at 14 585 tonnes, mostly supplied by Ecuador. 


Ex-firm and export prices bottomed out in Asia during the third quarter of the year along with a lower production forecast for 2023. As of late October, prices of frozen shrimp started to recover for exports to China and the United States of America. This development was a far cry from Europe where vannamei shrimp prices declined significantly. During mid-October, the medium sized shrimp from Ecuador was selling at almost EUR 1.00 per kg lower than a month ago.

Fresh shrimp prices in Southeast Asia’s domestic markets were stable at levels higher than export prices.

In Ecuador, the shrimp industry faced a 5 percent fall in the export revenue during January-June 2023 which is equivalent to a loss of USD 230 million while farmed shrimp production increased by 15 percent during this period.   


The aquaculture shrimp industry in Asia has entered the November-February low production season; the full season in Latin America will continue until February-March.

Overall production of farmed shrimp in 2023 is expected to be around 5.6 million tonnes – about one percent decline from 2022. The forecast for 2024 suggests a 4.8 percent recovery over this volume.  

In the international trade, China is likely to sustain the strong import trend during the last quarter of 2023 to cover the high consumption season during December, January and February. However in the United States of America, any increase in consumer demand will be met through imports from Latin America because of lower costs of logistics and closer proximity.

Inflation is going down in all major European countries. However, traders are reluctant to start buying for the Christmas period as demand remains weak for crustaceans including shrimp.  

During the year-end, shrimp demand is expected to improve in Southeast Asia and Far East in conjunction with Christmas, Gregorian New Year and Lunar New Year celebrations during December to February. Prices will firm up during this period when overall production will be seasonally low.

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