Imported seafood has become increasingly popular in the Chinese market. Last year China’s import value was said to have increased by US$3.62 billion to reach US$11.91 billion, while volume increased to about 7.6 million tons. Imports are estimated to exceed 10 million tons in 2020.
Shrimp are among the most widely received foreign seafood in this oriental country. As customs statistics show, in 2018 China’s shrimp import on paper ballooned from the previous 48,300 tons to 161,800 tons. And the actual number, including border-trade, could be more than 650,000 tons.
During this first quarter there was a great increase in China’s legal shrimp import, and the volume is said to be nearly 80% of last year’s total. And this year the country’s shrimp import is expected to continue to rise to over 800,000 tons.
Among overseas suppliers, India has witnessed a great increase in its white shrimp export to China. This May its export volume ballooned by 546% to reach 12,463 tons compared with last May, while the value skyrocketed by 489% to US$69 million. Reasonable prices are one main reason for their success in the Chinese market.
Ecuador also plays an increasingly important role in the Chinese market. Ecuador’s export value to China has increased by 181% to US$0.601 billion during these first five months compared with the same period last year, while the volume has also jumped by 220%. Thanks to China’s operations against smuggling, this May more than 90% of shrimp from Ecuador entered China legally.
Due to depreciation of RMB, prices of Ecuador white shrimp are very likely to increase drastically in China. But local importers and buyers said that they are willing to pay for the more expensive shrimp. They are still in shortage, and Ecuador sellers are occupied with existing orders and not so passionate about getting new ones, said one importer.
A price increase is especially obvious for large and middle-sized shrimps. For example, according to data, the price increased by about US$0.2 per kilo to reach around US$6.8 to US$6.9 per kilo for large ones. And their prices are expected to further rise with less supply of middle-sized ones, while small ones are also to become more widely received.
China’s domestic supply is possibly limited under the influence of heavy rainfall in the south. This means greater market shares for shrimp suppliers abroad. But as one Chinese importer said, Ecuador sellers are too busy to deal with new buyers now. With great market popularity and exchange rate changes, their prices are very likely to far exceed current ones in the near future.