Aquaculture for all

Rising domestic consumption pulls in shrimp

CHINA - China is changing from a net shrimp exporter to a net importer; more than 80 per cent of Vannamei farmed in China is now consumed domestically.

The world's production of shrimp expanded 10-fold from 1995 to 2005. Notably, the growth has been conspicuous in China.

Most of the shrimp produced in China are directed to domestic consumption. But, on top of that, imports of shrimp have been on the increase too, backed by the nation's smooth economic growth. Market analysts predict that imports will continue to rise in the years ahead.

Chinese production of Vannamei accelerated in 2000 and now 90 per cent of shrimp farms here culture the species. The sector has seen phenomenal growth in a relatively short time - productivity is reaching near on one million tons a year, which accounts for half of the world's total production. Just over 800,000 tons are now directed to the domestic market.

China's shrimp imports have crept up steadily since the first half of the 1990s, with the proportion of imports to exports changing noticeably in 2002. Imports expanded in line with the country's economic growth, driven on since 2001 by the prospect of the Beijing Olympic Games. The 2008 Games are likely to push the market further.

Exports also saw a visible growth in 2003, but declined slightly following the detection of banned chemicals in some farmed supplies.

In 2005 Vhina exported 72,000 tons of shrimp, while imports aggregated 57,000 tons, showing a five-fold increase in ten years.

However, trade is changing. Exports to the US are expected to decline, again as a result of banned antibiotic substances being found in Chinese products. The US government has imposed import controls and there is also the issue of import tariffs on Chinese processed shrimp entering the US market.

In view of the current trading circumstances between the two countries - which is also effecting pork and chicken sectors - analysts do not expect Chinese shrimp exports to the US to improve. Seafood wholesalers believe that US procurement sources will shift to south east Asia, and that will inevitably drive up prices.

Even so, industry observers remain confident that China itself will suck up any over supply. Demand for shrimp is strong. Japanese traders report an increasing demand for the species, which will be further accelerated by the pace of China's economic growth and further globalisation of its food, retail and industrial sectors.

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