China's shrimp imports continue to increase, Argentine red shrimp imports surge 232 percent

A fishing boat targeting Argentine red shrimp off the coast of Argentina.

China’s imports of Argentine red shrimp surged 232 percent during the first eight months of 2023, pushing Argentina into the top three of shrimp-exporting nations to China, according to a report by the Foreign Trade Department of Ecuador’s National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA), based on official statistics from China’s Customs Department.

In metric tons, Ecuador continued its reign as the top shrimp supplier to China from January through August of this year, comprising 72 percent of the total, followed by India with 13 percent and Argentina with 3 percent. The remaining 12 percent came from a smattering of countries such as Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

During the first eight months of the year, Chinese shrimp imports grew to 675,556 metric tons (MT) – up 29 percent when compared to the same period of 2022 – and 10 percent year over year in dollar terms to USD 3.74 billion (EUR 3.56 billion). This continued a trend of increasing shrimp imports, as in 2022, Chinese imports of shrimp totaled USD 3.42 billion (EUR 3.25 billion) – surging 64 percent when compared to the first eight months of 2021 – and 523,981 MT – up 44 percent year over year.

Chinese shrimp imports may surpass 1 million metric tons (MT) this year, according to sector observers, defying global purchasing trends and achieving growth that no other market has gotten close to reaching in 2023. While Ecuador has played a pivotal role in driving China’s shrimp import growth, Argentina exported as much shrimp to China in the first half of this year as it did in all of 2022.

Argentine red shrimp (pleoticus muelleri) is caught in the Atlantic Ocean off the Argentinean coast, while Ecuador mostly farm raises its shrimp, with the majority of the product comprising Pacific white shrimp (litopenaeus vannamei). In the first eight months of 2023, Argentina caught 139,742 MT of shrimp; in comparison, during the same time, Ecuador exported 804,851 MT.

However, Argentina’s shrimp fishery has seen accelerated growth over the past two decades. In 2018, the country

Photo courtesy of Luis César Tejo/Shutterstock

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