Shrimp Industry

The Highest Shrimp-Consuming Country in the World: Japan

Wildan Gayuh Zulfikar
Wildan Gayuh Zulfikar
26 October 2023
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Shrimp is Indonesia’s non-oil and gas key export product, with the United States and Japan being the main export destinations. In 2019, Indonesia exported 149.2 thousand tonnes of shrimp, which increased to 164.2 thousand tonnes in 2020. Roughly 17.6% of this was exported to Japan, making it the second main destination of Indonesia’s vannamei shrimp.

Cited from data of Indonesia-Tokyo’s Trade Attache, in the last 5 years, frozen shrimp export trends in Indonesia increased 0.89% annually. More specifically, based on data from BKIPM, Indonesia’s vannamei shrimp export volume to Japan constantly increased in the past 5 years. Decreases were only observed during the pandemic back in 2020. The average export volume per month ranged from 1,300-1,500 tonnes.

 Vannamei shrimp export volume growth from Indonesia to Japan

YearVolume (MT)
201816,303
201917,722
202016,977
202119,002
202223,825

Source: BKIPM (2023)

Japan is known as the country with the highest fish consumption in the world. Some fish products rely on imports because of the declining national production. Japan also lacks the area and ideal conditions for shrimp cultivation, and thus relies on other countries for imports.

Along with the US and China, Japan takes over 56.2% of the world’s shrimp market share. Japan imports shrimp from several countries, namely Vietnam, Thailand, India, and China.

The highest shrimp consumption per capita 

Known as a high seafood-consuming country, Japan needs to import some fish from other countries to fulfill their domestic demand. Indonesia is one of the countries which supplies Japan with their need for shrimp.

The fish and seafood consumption per capita in Japan reaches 3.28 kg, the highest in the world over the US, which has a value of 1.3 kg. Roughly 39.1% of Japanese consume fish 2-3 times per week, and they shop for fish products almost every week.

Frozen shrimp is part of Japan’s traditional cuisine. In line with recent trends, the Japanese choose convenient food products with a long shelf life to save their shopping time. Frozen shrimp products are thus enjoyed by many.

Some types of shrimp that are commonly consumed among the Japanese are the tiger shrimp and vannamei shrimp. These two shrimp types are often used to make ebi tempura or ebi furai. Much shrimp is also used as onigiri fillings.

Many supermarkets sell processed or whole frozen shrimp (in peeled or unpeeled form). The shrimp market is huge for food processing companies which process it for ebi furai and onigiri to be sold to consumers.

Indonesia’s competition in Japan’s shrimp market 

For Japan, Indonesia is an important supplier to fulfill their shrimp demand, being in the top three after Vietnam and slightly above India. Indonesia’s tough competition in Japan’s market are Vietnam, India, and Argentina.

However, there has been a decline in frozen shrimp imports for the last 5 years at -4.71%. One of the reasons is the decrease in exchange rates of the Japanese Yen compared to foreign currencies. Apart from the tough competition, issues such as the EMS outbreak, decrease in exchange rates, and increase in consumption taxes cause distributors to reduce their purchase.

Japan’s main shrimp supplier is Vietnam. Indonesia is the runner-up with a market share of 17.2% in 2020. Competition looms from Argentina, which has a market share of 10.2% in Japan’s shrimp market.

In terms of this competition, Indonesia’s frozen shrimp price is relatively higher than other countries, around USD 10.7/kg, although this is lower than Vietnam’s, which sells their shrimp at USD 11.18/kg. India offers the lowest price, USD 8.13/kg. There have been indications that Vietnam offers shrimp of good quality, as its market share keeps growing despite its high price. The growth of Vietnam’s market share in Japan is also strengthened by the high investments of Japanese companies in Vietnam’s fishery sector.

Key takeaways for Indonesia’s shrimp industry

The tough market conditions in the US cause some exporters to prioritize Japan as their main destination. For the past few years, Indonesia has been one of the exporters to do this. In 2012, the shrimp export to the US was only 47.7%. Considering the fact that competition in the US keeps getting tougher, Indonesia needs to strengthen its footing in terms of quality and price.

Indonesia also faces fierce competition in the Japanese market, and here are some takeaways that should be noted:

  1. Make use of every small momentum from drawbacks faced by competing countries. For example, when Vietnam and Thailand faced EMS outbreaks, Indonesia remained EMS-free and secured its position in the Japan market
  2. Improve efficiency to reduce production costs, allowing better price offers
  3. Strengthen competition by improving quality, enabling us to offer a higher price with better quality

  

References:
Atase Perdagangan KBRI Tokyo. 2021. Laporan Analisis Intelijen Bisnis: Frozen Shrimp and Prawns (Udang Beku) HS: 030617.
Prastika, M. I., J. Sutrisno, and E. Antriyandarti. 2023. Export Performance of Indonesian Frozen Shrimp to Japan. European Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences, 5(1):114-118
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