Overview of Seafood Exports in 2019-20
India’s seafood industry played a crucial role in mitigating the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by shipping 12,89,651 metric tons (MT) of seafood worth Rs 46,662.85 crore (USD 6.68 billion) during the fiscal year 2019-20, according to the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
While the export value in rupee terms saw a marginal increase of 0.16 percent, the quantity and US dollar value declined by 7.39 percent and 0.74 percent, respectively. In the previous fiscal year (2018-19), India had exported 13,92,559 MT of seafood worth Rs 46,589.37 crore (USD 6.73 billion).
Resilience Amid Challenging Market Conditions
Despite facing sluggish demand in major export markets due to the pandemic, India managed to achieve a significant export volume. The seafood industry encountered various challenges, including order cancellations, payment delays, reduced cargo movements, and difficulties in securing new orders.
Another contributing factor to the decline in export quantity was the reduced fishing days and lower sea catch along the west coast.
Future Outlook and Ambitious Goals
Although India fell short of the target of USD 7 billion in seafood exports, there is optimism for a recovery. As lockdown restrictions are gradually eased worldwide and an increased preference for value-added products in retail chains, exports are expected to improve. MPEDA envisions taking Indian seafood exports to Rs 1 lakh crore (USD 14.3 billion) by 2030.
Frozen Shrimp Dominates Exports
Frozen shrimp maintained its position as the primary export item, both in terms of quantity and value. The export of frozen shrimp increased by 6.20 percent in quantity and 6.04 percent in dollar value. It accounted for a share of 50.58 percent in quantity and a significant 73.21 percent of the total dollar earnings.
The United States remained the largest market for Indian frozen shrimp, importing 2,85,904 MT, followed by China (1,45,710 MT), the European Union (74,035 MT), Japan (38,961 MT), Southeast Asia (34,439 MT), and the Middle East (32,645 MT).
Vannamei Shrimp and Black Tiger Shrimp Exports
India’s export of Vannamei shrimp witnessed growth, reaching 5,12,189 MT in 2019-20. The United States accounted for 51.07 percent of the total value, followed by China (21.81 percent), the European Union (8.19 percent), Southeast Asia (4.73 percent), Japan (4.51 percent), and the Middle East (3.66 percent).
In terms of Black Tiger shrimp, the United States held the largest market share by value (36.88 percent), followed by Japan (31.55 percent) and the European Union (10.40 percent).
Frozen Fish and Other Seafood Items
Frozen fish, the second-largest export item, experienced a decline of 34.11 percent in quantity and 26.53 percent in dollar value. It accounted for 17.32 percent of the export quantity and 7.69 percent of the dollar earnings.
On a positive note, the export of frozen cuttlefish increased by 17.76 percent in quantity, 1.71 percent in rupee value, and 1.45 percent in dollar terms.
Chilled items also showed growth, increasing by 23.22 percent in quantity, 2.53 percent in rupee value, and 1.29 percent in dollar earnings. However, exports of frozen squid and dried items declined during the period.
Key Export Markets
The United States remained the largest importer of Indian seafood in terms of value, accounting for 38.37 percent of the total dollar value. Exports to the US witnessed growth in quantity (8.25 percent), rupee value (10.38 percent), and USD earnings (9.30 percent).
China emerged as the largest destination in terms of quantity, with a share of 25.55 percent and import value of USD 1,374.63 million, representing a growth of 46.10 percent in quantity and 69.47 percent in USD value. The European Union maintained its position as the third-largest market, while Southeast Asia, Japan, and the Middle East also played significant roles.
In conclusion, India’s seafood exports in 2019-20 showcased resilience despite the challenging market conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Frozen shrimp remained the dominant export item, with the United States and China as the major importers.
While frozen fish exports declined, other seafood items like cuttlefish and chilled products showed positive growth. Looking ahead, with global lockdowns easing and increased demand for value-added products, the seafood industry anticipates a rebound and aims to reach ambitious export targets in the coming years.