Global aquaculture production grows despite pandemic

The 2021 Global Aquaculture Production Survey and Analysis reported high growth of Ecuador’s shrimp production and tilapia in Brazil and predicts Iceland as major producer in the global salmon sector.

Global aquaculture production grows despite pandemic
Photo source: Global Seafood Alliance
November 23, 2021

The 2021 Global Aquaculture Production Survey and Analysis was unveiled at the Global Seafood Alliance’s virtual GOAL Grand Finale, featuring the results of this year’s aquaculture production survey for shrimp and finfish.

Gorjan Nikolik, senior analyst at Rabobank, presented the 2021 Global Aquaculture Production Survey and Forecast findings, starting with shrimp. A top takeaway was the “impressive performance” from Ecuador’s shrimp industry, which grew by more than 5% in 2020 and is projected to increase by 10% in 2021. Looking at both volume and value in 2021, Ecuador is slated to overtake India as the world’s top shrimp exporter.

“What we just heard a few days ago from sources is that Ecuador would actually break 940,000 metric tons in shrimp exports, with a whopping $4.6 billion in exports,” said Nikolik. “It has to do with Ecuador focusing more on the United States and Europe, where we demand a higher level of processing. They have increased their level of processing and their supply.”

Overall, the global shrimp industry experienced strong growth in 2021, with estimates indicating that global shrimp production levels increased by 8.9%. However, it’s anticipated that number could reach up to 10% or higher once end-of-year data from Ecuador and Brazil are incorporated into the analysis.

Looking ahead, there’s a “bullish outlook” on the horizon, with a projected 5% growth for 2022. Still, uncertainty lingers in the industry, with survey results indicating that a possible drop in market prices is the top concern for shrimp operators.

Data from the Global Finfish Aquaculture Production Survey and Forecast indicated that the two large salmon producers, Norway and Chile, experienced opposite supply dynamics in 2021. “On the one side, you have Norway recording an incredible growth rate of 10% in 2021,” said Nikolik. “It’s based on, to a large extent, good biology.” In contrast, Chile contracted in 2021, with total production levels projected to dip 14.1% below the previous year. However, the production is predicted to rebound by 8.8% in 2022.

Nikolik predicted that, based on the data, Iceland would become a major producer in the global salmon sector and may reach similar levels as the Faroe Islands in the next five to six years. 

Other highlights included growth numbers indicating “an incredible rise” in Latin America’s tilapia industry, which is currently the fastest-growing tilapia region, driven by Brazil. Another “exciting new development” is Atlantic cod, which Nokolik identified as a sector to watch in the future.

“We saw an incredible growth in 2021, the sector basically doubled from a small base,” he said. “The expectation is that it will grow by 50 percent next year.”