Demand for shrimp may push India’s seafood exports over USD 6 billion, despite EU problems

Published on
September 11, 2017

With Indian shrimp increasingly favored by global seafood buyers, the country's seafood exports may touch USD 6 billion (EUR 5.1 billion) during the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Demand for shrimp is leading the increase in Indian seafood exports, which totaled INR 378.7 billion (USD 5.8 billion, EUR 4.9 billion) in 2016-17, according to an Economic Times report.

Indian shrimp have been dominating the U.S. market in the last few years as supplies from Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia have dropped, mainly due to disease, Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) Vice President Kenny Thomas said. In fact, India recently took over as the top exporter of shrimp into the United States, with 30 percent market share, as Thailand’s market share dropped to 29 percent.

Thomas estimated shrimp accounts for 70 percent of India's exports – a total that has been increasing as shrimp farmers expand production of vannamei for export as well as domestic markets.

That figure will continue to increase, Thomas said, despite the European Union’s move to inspect a larger percentage of Indian shipments. Currently, the E.U. checks 50 percent of the consignments for quality norms, though it has threatened to inspect all shipments if India does not take further measures to reduce the number of shipments found to have unacceptable levels of antibiotics. 

The European Commission is currently conducting a review of the Indian inspection process and is considering a total ban on Indian seafood product imports, which could be announced and implemented in the next few months, according to the Business Standard. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be closely watching the E.U. review and may consider its own review, depending on the outcome, the newspaper reported.

Nevertheless, driven by steady demand, many Indian states have promoted shrimp farming and increased production. Many new shrimp farms have popped up across the country, especially in the coastal areas, while the output at existing farms has also risen, the Society of Aquaculture Professionals S Muthukaruppan said. SEAI echoed Muthukaruppan’s findings, stating that Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Gujarat have added more farms this year. 

If this production trend continues, Indian shrimp output will be approximately 500,000 tons during 2017-18, as compared to the 450,000-ton output recorded during 2016-17 fiscal year, Muthukaruppan said.

Reporting from Mumbai, India

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