China Shrimp Market Up, Will Import More

The US and Japan were traditionally the largest importers of shrimp, but China is importing larger quantities of the shellfish than ever before. Consumption has more than doubled since 2005. Over a decade ago, China was consuming around 700,000 tons each year.
As of 2016, Chinese consumers are eating 1.7 million tons of shrimp annually. This is a massive increase – in the region of 123% compared with 2005’s levels. Over the past five years consumption of shrimp has risen 60%.
China itself is a shrimp producer and exporter, the world’s largest in fact, yet, as with many seafood varieties, domestic demand cannot keep up with rising consumption levels. Subsequently, imports of shrimp products, including white leg, black tiger and processed shrimp, are growing in volume and value.
During the first half of 2016, China imported 68% more shrimp compared with the same period in 2015. 32,000 tons of the crustacean made its way to China during this period. Subsequently, greater demand has led to a price hike – meaning Chinese importers are willing to pay more for top quality products.
Total imports hover around the $600 million mark, judging by January-July 2015’s import values of $323.3 million. Prices tend to experience spikes around November-December in preparation for the Chinese New Year. Around this time, China’s food imports can expand by as much as 30-50% – creating a seasonal market exporters need to know about.
South American producers win big on Chinese shrimp import market
China’s shrimp trading partners come from every corner of the globe. While the nation is geographically close to several seafood producing nations, such as Thailand, India, and Vietnam, South America is home to the biggest suppliers of shrimp to the Chinese seafood market.
Argentina and Ecuador are China’s chief shrimp suppliers. Historically, Ecuador led the way with its exports, but Argentina overtook its regional rival to become the biggest exporter of shrimp to China.
According to data from the International Trade Centre (ITC), the following countries are the top 5 origins of 2015’s Chinese shrimp imports were:
1.    Ecuador – 25,635 tons
2.    Argentina – 20,251 tons
3.    India – 8,997 tons
4.    Indonesia – 8,342 tons
5.    Thailand – 4,303
(import levels reflect trade across the whole of 2015)
China’s shrimp import landscape has subsequently changed. In the first half of 2016, Argentine producers exported 13,155 tons of shrimp to China – an increase of 194% compared with the same period in 2015.
Ecuador, despite being overtaken by Argentina, shipped 94% more China-bound shrimp during this period, compared with 2015, hitting 9,217 tons.
The value of Argentina’s Chinese shrimp exports, during the aforementioned period, totalled $81.7 million. Comparatively, Ecuador’s shipments cost Chinese importers $65.3 million.
Other shrimp-exporting countries include Pakistan, Australia, Estonia, Madagascar and Mexico. Collectively, these five nations’ exports accounted for 3,242 tons. Other nations, according to data from the ITC, sent 1,822 tons to China. This includes countries such as Vietnam, Canada, Greenland and a variety of other seafood producers dotted across the globe.
With imports on the rise, consumption more than doubling, and with China keen to source its shrimp needs from around the world, it is quickly emerging as a significant export market for seafood producers.
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