Shrimp-sector leaders outline growth trajectory at Global Shrimp Forum

The inaugural Global Shrimp Forum, taking place in Utrecht, The Netherlands, from 6 to 8 September, attracted more than 400 delegates from 35 countries,

The inaugural Global Shrimp Forum, taking place in Utrecht, The Netherlands, from 6 to 8 September, attracted more than 400 delegates from 35 countries, to discuss top-traded seafood product on the planet by volume.

In the forum’s first day, shrimp-sector leaders from India, Ecuador, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia offered insights into the trajectory of shrimp aquaculture in their countries. They also outlined the biggest challenges facing the sector globally, including disease outbreaks, increasing transportation costs, ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change impacts, and an unsettled macroeconomic picture.

Victor Suresh, president of India’s Society of Aquaculture Professionals, said his country – currently one of the biggest producers of shrimp – has the potential to develop into one of the largest shrimp markets in the world, similar to the path China has taken. But despite a record, 900,000-metric-ton production total and a similar projected volume for 2022, the industry’s current fragmented state means the cost of production is not met by the return.

“We import all of our white shrimp and black tiger shrimp broodstock, and to improve the quality of production, increase survival rates, and get faster growth, we need to work with the shrimp-breeders to ensure they are producing for our specific conditions,” Suresh said. “We will also look at farm inputs, including feed and functional feed additives, and address production densities and unauthorized use of antibiotics.”

Suresh said India’s shrimp industry hopes to increase its domestic sales, with the country’s burgeoning e-commerce economy presenting an enticing avenue for growth. Suresh also said India hopes to move away from its current heavy reliance on exports to the United States and to market access in China and Europe.

Another Asian country looking to increase domestic consumption of shrimp is Indonesia. Speaking at the forum, Rokhmin Dahuri, an advisor to Indonesia’s Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, said shrimp aquaculture is considered vital to the Indonesian economy and economically supports thousands of people. Yet other countries with smaller coastlines have far higher shrimp-production volumes.

Dahuri said with the right training and support, Indonesia can increase its output. He said Indonesia is in the process of testing different methods of semi-intensive and intensive production, new technology such as smart auto feeders, improved feed, and use of genetic selection to produce improved broodstock and shrimp larvae. Vannamei shrimp accounts for 80 percent of Indonesia’s production, with black tiger shrimp and giant freshwater prawns making up the remainder, and Dahuri said those production ratios are likely to be maintained.

“Demand is increasing in the domestic and export markets for shrimp as part of a healthy diet, and we need to step up to meet that demand,” he said.

In Vietnam, exports of shrimp are expected to exceed USD 4 billion (EUR 4 billion) in 2022, and the national goal is to surpass USD 6 billion (EUR 6 billion) by 2025, according to Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy general secretary of the Vietnamese Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). Vannamei make up 75 percent of Vietnam’s output, with black tiger shrimp making up much of the remainder. Nam said many of Vietnam’s biggest shrimp producers are embracing Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification, which he is in demand by global markets, and the country has embarked upon a plan to upgrade its shrimp-processing facilitiesv with the latest technology to enable them to produce premium value-added shrimp products.

“More than 45 percent of our output is value-added, and that will increase in future years,” he said.

While the global shrimp market has undergone rapid change in recent years, perhaps no country’s shrimp sector has undergone a bigger transformation than China. Believed to be the largest producer of warm-water shrimp in the world, it was once a major exporter – including a three-year period from 1988 to 1990 when it was the top supplier of shrimp to the U.S. – but is now directing much of its production to its own domestic market. And increasingly, that supply isn’t enough, and it has becoming more reliant on foreign imports, though China’s zero-COVID policy led to a customs crackdown that resulted in a sharp drop in shrimp shipments to the country.

Chinese Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance President Cui He said China is continuing to expand its shrimp production, and that the sector is becoming increasingly industrialized and consolidated to cope with rising demand. Even so, Cui said he anticipates imports will continue to be an important source of supply for China.

Until recently one of China’s primary suppliers, Ecuador’s shrimp sector has also undergone a transformation recently. Shrimp is now Ecuador’s top food export and second-biggest export in value after oil. The shrimp sector employs more than 270,000 people in Ecuador and is the top creator of new jobs in the country, according to Carlos Miranda, the president of Ecuador’s Camera Nacional de Acuacultura.

Development of Ecuador’s shrimp sector over the past decade has been led by large, highly professional companies with a long-term view and the appetite to invest in innovation, technology, and breeding programs to produce specific pathogen resistant (SPR) shrimp, Miranda said. Just 20 companies account for more than 60 percent of the country’s shrimp exports, according to Miranda.

“Forty percent of the production area is under technification, which leaves plenty of room to modernize and improve output in the remaining areas. I see a process of consolidation taking place in future to provide finance to enable this to happen,” he said.

However, Ecuador struggled to maintain sales to its China through the COVID-19 pandemicv and is now concentrating its efforts on capturing more of the U.S. and European markets, while still seeking to consolidate its position in Asia, Miranda said.

“Thanks to the introduction of new technology, we can now peel shrimp automatically and compete with low-cost Asian labor, which makes our product more attractive to the market,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Nicki Holmyard


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