Ecuador exported 73,000 tonnes of prawns in May 2021 worth USD 406 million, according to the Nacional Chamber of Aquaculture, representing 723 tonnes (+1%) year-on-year (y-o-y) volume growth and USD 12 million value growth during the period. The Chamber reported that cumulative Ecuadorian prawn exports for the first-five months of 2021 increased by 23,333 tonnes (+8%) y-o-y to 315,000 tonnes, while the value of those exports increased by 4.84 million (+3%) to US$ 1.66 billion.
Ecuadorian prawn exports have recovered after contracting by 13,764 tonnes (-15%) y-o-y to 79,705 tonnes during the first two months of the year. The shortfall at the start of the year was due to a significant decline in exports to China, which fell by 31,000 tonnes (-49%). China, which accounted for over half of Ecuadorian prawn exports in 2020, suspended shipments from Ecuadorian companies in January 2021, in response to white spot disease being detected in some cargoes. Indeed, Chinese prawn shipments from Ecuador contracted by 67,810 tonnes y-o-y during Jan-May 2021. However, firm y-o-y production and robust shipments to the US and Europe, respectively Ecuador’s second and third-largest export markets, provided relief.
Prawn demand in the US and Europe has incrementally improved through 2021, with COVID-19 vaccine rollouts contributing to lockdowns gradually easing. Moreover, tight supply from India, amid delayed seeding and tight container availability, has spurred demand for cost-competitive Ecuadorian prawns. This has supported domestic ex-farm price, with the Mintec price of 30-40 count (whole head and shell on) hitting a 15-month high average of USD 5.92/kg in June 2021, representing a USD 0.83/kg (+16.3%) month-on-month (m-o-m) increase and USD 2.04/kg (+52.6%) y-o-y.