Shrimp Industry

Get to Know the World’s Top Shrimp Producer: Ecuador

Wildan Gayuh Zulfikar
Wildan Gayuh Zulfikar
26 October 2023
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In 2021, shrimp production worldwide was estimated to be 5 million tonnes, and was predicted to reach 7 million tonnes globally in 2030. Now, the world shrimp supply was led by Ecuador. In 2017, Ecuador represented 12% of the world’s total shrimp production, but now the percentage has risen as high as 25%. 

Ecuador’s shrimp export reached 841,000 tonnes in 2021. In January-June 2022, the amount showed a 35% increase compared to the same period in 2021. The distribution of Ecuador’s shrimp export in 2019 was as follows:

  • China - 42%
  • Vietnam - 22%
  • United States - 13%
  • Spain - 5%
  • France - 4%
  • Others (Italy, South Korea, Russia, United Kingdom, Colombia) - 4%

Ecuador is not a newcomer in the shrimp industry. Their shrimp cultivation has been around for 50 years, making it the most experienced compared to other South American countries. In the 1980s, Ecuador was the biggest shrimp exporter in the world. However, towards the end of the 1980s into the 1990s, they faced an epidemic that caused the shrimp industry to decline, followed by a severe economic crisis.

Despite the downfall, many factors contributed to the growth of Ecuador’s shrimp industry. One of them started in 2012, when Asia’s shrimp industry was faced with EMS (early mortality syndrome) which enabled Ecuador to export a huge amount of shrimp to China. Other contributing factors were the adoption of nursery and proper farm management, as well as the combined use of automatic feeders and aerators. 

The automatic feeder is an important equipment for Ecuador’s shrimp industry which helps with feed efficiency. Right now, more than a quarter of Ecuador’s shrimp farms have automatic feeders and aerators. A moderate stocking density of 18.6 per cubic meters still relies on production efficiency as part of the implementation of various advanced technologies. 

In 2019, Ecuador’s shrimp industry reaped a profit of 3.375 million dollars. This success was made possible by massive investments of local companies which focused on increasing cultivation areas. Moreover, the lab culturing process of larvae and nutrition development supported the growth of the industry.

Ecuador’s shrimp farm has an area of 250,000 hectares. In the last decade, their shrimp cultivation has seen a notable increase. As cited from, the production in 2010 was 145,000 tonnes, and it rose 4-fold to 675,000 tonnes in 2020.

More than 50% of the farms were small-to-medium with a productivity of 5 tonnes/ha. However, each farm is operated by maintaining sustainability parameters. Sustainable and efficient cultivation practices were believed to contribute to the rise of Ecuador’s shrimp industry in becoming the global leader. Their toughest competition right now is India due to the cheap labor wage.

What can Indonesia’s shrimp industry learn from this? 

Geographically, Indonesia’s shrimp farm area is more favorable than Ecuador. However, due to poor planning and execution, Indonesian shrimp farmers are still unable to make the most of the available areas.

From the cultivation technology perspective, many of the shrimp farms in Indonesia have a more intensive system with higher stocking density and more advanced technology. However, cultivation efficiency is yet to be achieved consistently. Although automatic feeders have been around for a while, their use is yet to be optimized.

The next lesson is on sustainability, which can be improved by having a better calculation of stocking density and farming with better efficiency. A sustainable cultivation will benefit not just the environment, but bring balance to livelihood, nature, and economic activity.


Fletcher, R. 2022. How can Ecuador make the most of its ever-growing shrimp production? The Fish Site.
Molinari, C. 2022. Ecuador's production, US demand key drivers of global shrimp market.
Veterinaria Digital. 2022. Shrimp Production in 2022 to be Led by Latin America Producers
World Grain. 2022. Cargill to Expand Shrimp Feed Production in Ecuador.
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