India recorded a decline in frozen prawn exports to the US to 2,71,831 tonnes from 2,86,902 tonnes during the calendar year 2020, but it managed to retain the position as the largest exporter of frozen prawn to the United States.
Globally, India is the second biggest aquaculture and fish producer, and the fourth biggest seafood exporter in the world with exports of marine products worth about US$7 billion. Frozen prawn accounts for 51% of the quantity and 73% of the total dollar earnings.
India is facing swift competition in this segment with Indonesia, the second-largest exporter having increased its exports to 1,60,744 tonnes from 1,33,163 tonnes of the previous year. Ecuador’s exports also grew to 1,25,818 tonnes from 82,869 tonnes of calendar year 2019. Another major player, Vietnam also recorded a growth in exports to the US, touching 65,459 tonnes in 2020, up from 55,859 tonnes of the previous year.
According to the latest report from Globefish, part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the harvests in India, Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh compared with 2019, highlights the performance of leading players in the US market.
It said that since November 2020, prawn farming in Asia entered the low production season period covering the northeast region of India, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh. “Ex-farm prices of prawn bottomed out during the fourth quarter of 2020 and have firmed up since, especially for large and medium-sized prawn.”
Both domestic market for seafood and exports from India, in 2020, were hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants and shopping malls were shut across the country in the lockdown period, leading to the decline in demand for seafood. Moreover, travel and trade restrictions were also imposed in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.
The report also pointed out that fact that 2021 is overshadowed again by the COVID-19 pandemic, with increasing movement restrictions in North America, Europe, Asia and elsewhere. As such, this year’s supply and demand forecast remains opaque.