Global shrimp production to surpass 5 million MT in 2022, CP Foods' Robin McIntosh predicts

Panelists at the shrimp panel at the Global Seafood Market Conference.

Global shrimp production has continued to trend upward, with a panel of experts at the National Fisheries Institute’s Global Seafood Market Conference predicting that global shrimp production will exceed 5 million metric tons (MT) in 2022.

Current predictions put the production at 5.011 million MT in 2022, a significant increase over the 4.569 million MT grown in 2021, which itself was an increase over the 4.086 million MT produced in 2020. Globally, shrimp production has seen a tremendous upswing – in 2015, global shrimp production didn’t even reach 3 million MT.

“If I had done this analysis back in 2019, it would have said we wouldn’t reach 5 million tons until 2025,” Robins McIntosh, executive vice-president of Charoen Pokphand Foods, said during the panel. “The rate of shrimp production has actually accelerated over the last few years.”

Globally, Asian countries produce the most shrimp – roughly 65 percent of the world's shrimp comes from the region. That’s followed by the Americas, which produce around 30 percent. However, the real story is the acceleration of production in the Americas, particularly Ecuador, according to McIntosh.

“The big story is the rate of growth. The rate of growth in the Americas is exceeding that of Asia,” McIntosh said.

That’s a shift from a decade ago, when the region only produced 20 percent of the world’s shrimp. Among the major producers in the Americas, Ecuador’s impressive growth resulted in it producing more than 1 million MT of shrimp in 2021, the first time a country has done so in over a decade.

“I think the big headline ... was that Ecuador surpassed a million tons,” McIntosh said. “That’s not the first country to have surpassed a million tons China did it back in 2009 before EMS, but then they fell off a cliff. Ecuador is the first country to come back and again hit that mark of a million tons.”

Ecuador has increased its production through technological changes, and is projecting to continue its high rate of growth, he said.

“From 2010, their growth rate has been 25 percent. If we look over the last three years, their growth rate is accelerating to 30 percent. And according to their projections, they will continue at that very high rate of growth,” McIntosh said. “I would never have expected Ecuador to get much over 700,000 MT using the original Ecuadorian technology, but they have changed.”

How high the country is up for debate, but Mcintosh said he is bullish for 2022.

“We can be confident that at least for the next year that Ecuador can continue growth,” he said.

The bigger question, McIntosh said, is whether or not Ecuador can continue its rapid growth. 

“When I look historically, when countries grow more than 25, 30 percent three to four straight years, they basically will outstrip the ability to continue that growth and sometimes they fall,” McIntosh said.

In Asia, major exporters India, Vietnam, and Indonesia have all recorded steady growth.

“That accounts for 55 percent of Asian shrimp,” McIntosh said. If China is added to that group, the number increases to 80 percent, but China’s production typically stays within the country.

“China is basically a net importer and everything they produce within their country is pretty much consumed within that country,” he said.

Vietnam has continued a trend of slow and steady growth, McIntosh said.

“Their growth rate is not as spectacular, but it’s 7, 8, 9, 10 percent,” McIntosh said. “Which is to me a sustainable growth rate.”

Overall, McIntosh predicted Asia may gradually have a less-dominant hold on the U.S. market as Asian countries focus on shipping into China.

“It’s easier for Asian countries to ship to China than maybe the Americas now with some of the logistic loggerheads,” he said.

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource


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