A Glimpse of Light in the Pond of Darkness

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to uncertain times in the global shrimp industry, meanwhile, opportunity knocks for some countries to gain a greater market share in overall shrimp production.  

The pandemic has severely affected shrimp demand in the international and domestic markets.  During the early part of 2020, most countries experienced decreasing trade in the restaurant and hospitality sectors because of travel restrictions, lockdowns, and social distancing measures to curtail the virus spread. 

The shrimp industry saw a global production decrease of 13% due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, that decrease in production was not realized in all regions of the world.  Specifically, Indonesia and Ecuador were able to not only deal with the effects of COVID-19 quickly, but they were able to overcome and persevere.  Ecuador was able to increase its production to levels higher than the previous top producer, India by 100,000 MT. The results? Ecuador became the largest by-volume shrimp producer in the world in 2020.  Ecuador’s strong performance should not be a surprise, since Latin America has been growing in market share for the past seven years.

The new year has definitely turned the page on the reeling international and domestic shrimp markets, which now show signs of stronger retail trade and actually point to a rise in global shrimp prices.  The 2021 outlook for shrimp production is hopeful and shrimp farmers are adapting to a slowly recovering market. 

What can the global shrimp market learn from Latin America?  Despite the low availability of raw materials globally, Latin America was able to gain greater market share by employing lower-density aquaculture, which is known to make the industry more resilient to disease outbreaks.   As Charoen Pokphand Foods Executive Vice President, Robins McIntosh shared during a recent Global Seafood Market Conference (GSMC) webinar: “In Latin America, densities are much lower, as you crowd shrimp, as the cultural environment degrades – and we do have some degraded environments in Asia – the immune systems are affected negatively.”

How can NCH Life Sciences help? NCH Life Sciences is the leader in advanced probiotic technology. We help aquatic species such as shrimp build stronger immune systems and improve the environment they live in.