After banner 2023, outlook is uncertain for China’s shrimp import market

Global shrimp industry and overall Chinese economy woes have left forecasters with varied opinions on how 2024 will play out
A box of Thai tiger shrimp headed to China
A box of Thai tiger shrimp headed to China | Photo courtesy of akpconcept/Shutterstock
4 Min

China, in defiance of global trends, recorded surging shrimp imports in 2023, purchasing over 1 million metric tons (MT) amid a global supply glut in which demand in other major markets has plummeted. 

However, the country’s gloomy economic prospects have experts wary of guaranteeing whether that demand will continue into 2024.

“It is hard to say whether 2024 will witness a further increase on vannamei imports to China,” said Peng Song, the CEO of Qingdao-based Beiyang Jiamei Seafood, a company which operates the Seamix Seafood brand of products. “There was a great mood among importers after Covid-19 in 2023 about the market, and there were a few times price decreases occurred from the supply side abroad; thus, we saw importers speculating the market, while in 2024, we do not expect there will be such opportunities.”

Additionally, the overall mood around China’s economy remains gloomy, with both GDP growth and the stock market underperforming and the value of China’s currency continuing to decline as investors grow ever more pessimistic. Specifically, investment banking firm Morgan Stanley, in a recent research note, pointed out three major issues facing the Chinese economy: an unresolved debt pile faced by real estate developers, an aging population, and falling consumer prices due to weak demand.

“We hope for the best,” Peng said.

Nevertheless, others are more bullish about Chinese shrimp demand in 2024 – at least in the short term.

“There are no shrimp circulating around China now … and huge demand,” Didier Boon, the CEO of Beijing-based food and beverage trading firm East China Seas, said.

Boon pointed to differences between ...

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