Agri Business

Covid, sluggish overseas markets, hit India’s seafood exports in 2020-21

V. Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on June 02, 2021

Exports drop by nearly 11 per cent in volume terms

The Covid pandemic and sluggish overseas markets have cast their shadow over India’s resurgent seafood sector, as the country exported 11,49,341 tonnes of marine products worth Rs 43,717.26 crore ($5.96 billion) during FY 2020-21, dropping by 10.88 per cent in volume terms compared with the year-ago period.


The US, China and the European Union were the leading importers, while frozen shrimp retained its position as the major export item, followed by frozen fish.

In 2019-20, India exported 12,89,651 tonnes of seafood worth Rs 46,662.85 crore ($6.68 billion), marking a 6.31 per cent decline in rupee terms and 10.81 per cent in dollar value in 2020-21.

“The pandemic drastically affected seafood exports during the first half of the year, but it revived well in the last quarter of 2020-21. Also, the aquaculture sector performed better during this fiscal by contributing 67.99 per cent of exported items in dollar terms and 46.45 per cent in quantity, which is 4.41 per cent and 2.48 per cent higher, respectively, when compared to 2019-20,” said K. S. Srinivas, Chairman of the Marine Products Export Development Authority.

Frozen shrimp contributed 51.36 per cent in quantity and 74.31 per cent of the total dollar earnings. The US remained its largest importer (2,72,041 tonnes), followed by China (1,01,846 tones), the EU (70,133 tonnes), Japan (40,502 tonnes), South-East Asia (38,389 tonnes), and West Asia (29,108 tonnes).

However, shrimp exports declined by 9.47 per cent in dollar value and 9.50 per cent in quantity. Overall, shrimp exports were 5,90,275 tonnes worth $4,426.19 million. The export of Vannamei (white leg) shrimp decreased from 5,12,204 tonnes to 4,92,271 tonnes in 2020-21.

Japan, the major market for Black Tiger (Penaeus monodon) shrimp, had a 39.68 per cent share in dollar terms, followed by the US (26.03 per cent), South-East Asia (9.32 per cent), the EU (8.95 per cent ), West Asia (6.04 per cent) and China (3.76 per cent).

Other factors that affected exports

Besides the pandemic impact, the Mpeda chairman said several other factors negatively impacted seafood exports during 2020-21. On the production side, there were reduced fish landings due to fewer fishing days, slow logistic movements and market uncertainties. Scarcity of workers in fishing and processing plants, paucity of containers at seaports, increased air freight charges and limited flight availability affected exports, especially of high-value chilled and live products.

The situation in the overseas market was another dampener. In China, container shortage, increased freight charges, and Covid testing on seafood consignments caused market uncertainties. In the US, scarcity of containers made it difficult for exporters to execute orders in time. Closure of the HoReCa (hotel, restaurant and café) segment also affected demand. In Japan and the EU, Covid-induced lockdowns made retail, restaurant, supermarket and hotel consumption sluggish.

Published on June 02, 2021

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