US Frozen Shrimp Imports Grow YoY for Third Consecutive Month

Published Nov 17, 2023
US frozen shrimp imports experienced YoY growth for the third consecutive month this September. In terms of value, they experienced their lowest YoY decline pace since June 2022. These signals point to a relatively stronger demand. However, prices are yet to recover as the market remains oversupplied.

According to data from the Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), in September 2023, US imports of frozen shrimp (HS Code 030617) stood at 54.5 thousand mt, the third largest volume for a September on record. Frozen shrimp imports also experienced their fastest year-on-year (YoY) growth since March 2022, at a rate of 11.4%. It was also the third consecutive YoY increase.

Source: USDA, Tridge

It’s worth noting that import volume surpassed the 5-year average again, after trailing it during the past month. Meanwhile, in terms of value, imports totaled USD 424.8 million, down only by 0.3% YoY, representing the slowest decline pace since June 2022. All of these signals point to a strong US demand for frozen shrimp compared to its recent history.

The period comprising H2 2021 through H1 2022 was an anomaly. During that period, import volume was breaking records on expectations of strong consumer demand with the lifting of pandemic restrictions, but demand was overestimated, leading to a glut, evident in slow import volume in H2 2022. Current price data suggests the market remains oversupplied.

In September 2023, US average import prices from all locations stood at USD 7.80/kg, virtually unchanged from the previous month, but down 10.5% compared to September 2022 and 9.7% compared to the 5-year average.

Source: USDA, Tridge

Year-to-date imports down 7% YoY but gap is closing.

As of Jan-23 through Sep-23, imports totaled 442.5 thousand mt with a total value of USD 3.5 billion. In terms of volume, imports are down by 7%, but as seen in the previous months, the gap is closing. Meanwhile, in terms of value, imports are down by a much sharper 20% decline. This in turn relates to prices experiencing their lowest levels since at least 2012, at USD 7.91/kg.

Ecuador continues to gain market share in the US. Year-to-date (YTD) imports from this origin represent 33% of the total, compared to 31% in the same period last year. Meanwhile, India’s share has been consolidating, standing at 41%, compared to 39% over the same period last year. As mentioned previously, these gains in market share correspond to the relatively lower export prices from both Ecuador and India.

Source: USDA, Tridge

Source: USDA, Tridge

Short-term outlook. The Global Seafood Alliance’s 2023 Shrimp Aquaculture Production Survey indicates that global shrimp production is expected to decline by a slight 0.4% in 2023. Tridge expects lower production in the upcoming months due to cuts derived from low profit margins (due to ongoing low prices). While this development hasn’t been reflected in prices so far, it’s likely to remain a bullish factor in the upcoming months. Easing inflation as well as a relatively strong demand gives further strength to this expectation.

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