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Willem van der Pijl
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willem@shrimpinsights.com
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From Almost 750K MT to Almost 900K MT! Which Companies Drove 2021’s Surge of US Shrimp Imports?

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First of all, happy new year to all of you who celebrated the Year of the Tiger! Let me then give a big thank you to Angel Rubio, senior analyst at Urner Barry Consulting, who provided me with most of the data for this blog from Urner Barry’s Foreign Trade Database. I encourage all of you who want to delve deeper into the US shrimp imports to subscribe to this database or to contact Urner Barry Consultancy. They’re the best data resource if you want to go beyond simple trade data.

The Shrimp Blog is supported by: Inve AquacultureBenchmark Shrimp GeneticsShrimp Improvement SystemsSPF Shrimp FeedsMegasupplyDSM Animal NutritionTaprobane Seafood and Verwijs ImportZeigler Nutrition, and Grobest.

Disclaimer: The data presented in this blog is sourced from Urner Barry’s Foreign Trade Database. The data is organized by Urner Barry Consulting and Shrimp Insights on a best-efforts basis. A considerable portion of shrimp imported into the US is declared as “order”. This volume cannot be linked to a specific importer or exporter and therefore the numbers may differ slightly from the actual numbers. Nevertheless, we are certain that these numbers provide a good insight into the importers and exporters that lead the US shrimp trade.

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US Shrimp Imports Rise by 20% Year-on-Year

In 2021, the US imported 893,644 MT of shrimp, an increase of 20% compared to 2020. Dynamics in the US protein market, related to the shortage of supply and high prices of other proteins at a time when overall demand for protein has reached a peak, have clearly benefited shrimp consumption.

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In this year’s first Shrimp Blog, I look at which companies have driven the growth of exports and imports into the US from Ecuador, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The four countries are responsible for 88% of total US shrimp imports, up 4% compared to 2020. Combined, these four increased their exports year-on-year by 26%. Ecuador grew fastest, followed by India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. To continue to keep up with the growth of the US market and to maintain their market share, the exporters in these four countries need to keep on growing their exports. In this blog, I will identify the top US importers and their suppliers from these four countries.

Because of the density of information, I will publish this blog in two parts. This first part will look at the numbers of the top exporters and their US buyers. The second part will dive into the exporters and US buyers of each country individually. I will skip Indonesia in this second part as I already published detailed insights into Indonesia’s exports to the US in my blog of November 2021.

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Indonesia's Bahari Makmur Sejahti, Together With Three Other Indonesian Exporters Dominates the Top 10 Suppliers to the US

The top 10 suppliers from Ecuador, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam jointly supplied the US market with 212,204 MT in 2021 (Figure 1). They account for 28% of total US imports from these four countries, and for 24% of total US shrimp imports in 2021. The top 25 suppliers account for 349,924 MT or 46% of the total supply from these four countries and 39% of total US shrimp imports in 2021. Let’s briefly look at the companies per country.

Figure 1: The top 10 exporters to the US market from Ecuador, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam in 2021

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Top 10 suppliers to US market

Source: Urner Barry Consulting and Shrimp Insights using Urner Barry’s Foreign Trade Data (www.foreigntradedata.com)
Notes:
(1) The numbers for Bahari Makmur Sejati consist of the combined volume of Bahari Makmur Sejati and Cabang Medan.
(2) The numbers for Bumi Menara Internusa consist of the combined volume of various of their plants across Indonesia.
(3) The numbers for Sekar Bumi consist of the combined volume of Sekar Bumi and Bumi Pangan Utama.

In 2021, India is still by far the largest shrimp supplier to the US, although Indonesia and Ecuador are closing in. With a volume of 340,387 MT, India’s exports to the US increased by 25% compared to 2020. Its market share in 2021 was 38%, up 2% compared to 2020.

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It is maybe somewhat surprising that India is not dominating the top 10 exporters to the US. Only Nekkanti Seafoods (4), Devi Sea Foods (7) and Devi Fisheries (10) belong to the top 10 exporters to the US in 2021. This comes as a result of India’s fragmentation, with more numerous but relatively smaller companies in terms of exports. In 2021, over 14 companies exported more than 5,000 MT to the US. These companies, such as Sandhya Marines, Sandhya Aqua, Sagar Grandhi, Kader Exports, and Apex Frozen Foods, dominate the list of suppliers to the US market from number 10 to 25 . In comparison, in Ecuador, Indonesia, and Vietnam only companies 5, 8 and 2 exported more than 5,000 MT to the US in 2021.

Indonesia managed to increase its exports to the US from 160,714 in 2020 to 174,583 in 2021. Its market share was 20% of total imports, down 2% from 2020. Indonesia’s exporters dominate the top 10 of suppliers. Besides Bahari Makmur Sejahti (BMS), which on its own exported almost 38,000 MT, Bumi Menara Internusa (BMI) (3rd largest), Sekar Bumi (5th largest) and First Marine Seafoods (6th largest) join in the top 10. Together, they represent 12% of total US shrimp imports from the four countries.

Ecuador increased its exports to the US by 46%, from 125,818 MT in 2020 to 183,839 MT in 2021. Santa Priscila, Ecuador’s largest exporter, increased its exports to the US from around 6,000 MT in 2019 to roughly 30,000 MT in 2021. With this volume, the company surpassed Songa, which in 2019 was still Ecuador’s largest supplier to the US. However, Songa remains Ecuador’s second-largest exporter to the US and increased its exports to the US from around 11,000 MT in 2019 to almost 17,000 MT in 2021. Other companies in Ecuador, too, have started to focus on the US market. We will look at those companies in the next part of this blog.

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Just like the other countries, Vietnam also benefitted from the US’s appetite for shrimp and increased its exports by 33% compared to 2020. Only Stapimex made it into the top 10 suppliers. Minh Phu Seafood Corporation, by far Vietnam's largest overall shrimp exporters, with 10,980 MT, only comes in at position 15. Together, the two companies account for 31% of total Vietnamese exports to the US in 2021. More on Vietnam in the next blog.

Anti-Dumping Duties and DDP Payment Terms Forced Indian Exporters to Set-Up US Import Divisions

Before diving into the import landscape, it’s important to understand that it’s harder to analyze the import landscape than the export landscape. This is mainly due to the fact that some countries that are or were confronted with anti-dumping duties in the recent past were forced to become importers themselves. This is especially the case for Indian exporters but also for companies from Vietnam and Ecuador. As one US importer explains:

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“When anti-dumping duties (ADD) were put in place against India around 2004, US importers were advised by legal counsel to start purchasing Indian shrimp on a “delivery duty paid” (DDP) basis to avoid the risk of punitive retroactive tariff adjustments well after the imported goods were sold into the marketplace. US importers essentially forced Indian shrimp packers to set up US import operations to provide DDP services in order to maintain their share of the market. Now, virtually every Indian shrimp packer sells to the US market on DDP terms. Indonesia, on the other hand, narrowly avoided being one of the six target countries (China, Thailand, Ecuador, India, Vietnam and Brazil) of the original ADD action and has maintained exclusion to this day. US importers thus continued to purchase Indonesian shrimp on cost and freight (CFR) or cost, insurance and freight (CIF) terms since there’s never been a risk of paying retroactive duties on Indonesian shrimp.”

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For exporters from India, Vietnam and Ecuador, it used to be necessary to set up an import division to maintain access to the US market. Such exporters would actually be supplying the other US-origin importers (i.e. importers from the US, owned by US shareholders) such as Red Chamber Group, Pacific Coral Seafood, and Ore-Cal Corporation, and generally wouldn’t sell directly to the retail or food service markets. However, once established, many of the Indian companies also developed direct business with US retailers and food service companies and today compete fiercely for market share with these US-origin importers.

With 44,000 MT, Chicken of the Sea is the Biggest Importer, But as a Group Red Chamber is Responsible for the Largest Volume

Figure 2 provides you with the top 15 US importers of shrimp from Ecuador, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam in 2021. It shows the total volume and also the origins of the total volume. Note that it’s just a representation of import volume. In reality, some of the importers may have been “importer” on the bill of lading but then sold their produce to US-origin importers who distribute the product further into the foodservice and retail markets for reasons explained above. Jointly, with 312,000 MT, these 15 companies are responsible for 40% of imports from the four countries and 35% of total US shrimp imports. 

Figure 2: The 2021 top 15 US importers of shrimp from Ecuador, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam

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Top 15 importers

 
Source: Urner Barry Consulting and Shrimp Insights using Urner Barry’s Foreign Trade Data (www.foreigntradedata.com)

Looking at the type of importers, two out of the top 5 importers (Chicken of the Sea and AZ Gems), and five out of the top 5 to 15 importers (Devi Fisheries, Mseafood, CP Foods, Devi Sea Foods, and Choice Canning) are fully or partially owned by a foreign shrimp industry player. The other eight companies are still today fully American-owned companies. 

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Aqua Star is the biggest of these American-owned importers, in terms of its imports from the four countries discussed in this blog. An important note is that Aqua Star as a single company is already the third-largest importer of shrimp from the four countries, but if we add the volumes of Red Chamber and TB Fish Imports (Tampa Bay Fisheries), the Red Chamber Group would actually come out as the largest importer, responsible for a total of 45,640 MT. Like the Red Chamber Group, the other American-Owned importers (Pacific Coral Seafood, Ore-Cal, Censea, H&N Group, Great American Seafoods, and Lawrence Wholesale) are all established suppliers to the retail and foodservice markets.

More Detail in Part 2 of this US Market Blog

The US market is so big that it deserves a bit more attention. Therefore, in the next part of this blog that will follow soon, I will dive deeper into the top 10 exporters and their US buyers for Ecuador, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam individually, providing you with more detailed insight into the top 10 suppliers from each country, how vertically integrated these companies are, and what their strategies are to penetrate the US market.