Rabobank predicts shrimp farming's difficulties will continue in 2024

Farmer scooping shrimp.

Farmed salmon and fishmeal production is likely to stabilize worldwide in 2024 thanks to manageable increases in supply and slightly lower prices in both sectors, but it’s a very different story for farmed shrimp, with heavy oversupply, extremely low prices, and weaker than expected Chinese demand taking their toll going into the year, according to the latest industry report from Rabobank.

Compiled by Rabobank Senior Global Seafood Specialist Gorjan Nikolik, “Global Aquaculture Update 1H 2024" states that in 2023, shrimp farmers faced one of the most challenging years in more than a decade. Weak shrimp demand in Western markets, combined with persistently strong supply from Ecuador, created price levels that dropped even lower than the lowest point of the Covid-19 pandemic, while costs remained elevated due to high feed prices.

Those effects have continued into the new year, with the low prices and weak demand making it hard to predict when the market might stabilize. Indeed, the report suggests the current low prices could become “the new normal.”

Specifically, Rabobank’s report found that China imported record volumes of shrimp in 2023 as pandemic lockdowns lifted, but while the country’s demand rebounded, overall recovery was slower than expected.

A lot of the additional volume China absorbed stemmed from Ecuadorian shrimp production growth, with the South American country’s exports breaking new records, including a 14.1 percent year-over-year increase in volume for the year to November 2023.

“It is hard to see a repeat of the same shrimp-buying frenzy in China in 1H 2024,” the report stated, adding that an increase in domestic supply could also dampen China’s demand for imports.

For the year to October 2023, China’s shrimp imports were down 6.9 percent in value but up 21.4 percent in volume. Meanwhile, U.S. import value and volume fell 20 percent and 9 percent, respectively, over the same period.

Rabobank’s analysis states that global shrimp supply in the first six months of 2024 should be ...

Photo courtesy of Phensri Ngamsommitr/Shutterstock

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