Mexican shrimp returns to U.S.

Published on 17 November 2021

The U.S. market was reopened for Mexican wild shrimp after almost six months of prohibition. In this article we explain the details of the event and the opportunities it brings.

In May of this year, Mexico lost its certification to export shrimp from the high seas to the United States. The reason was the outdated program for the protection of sea turtles, which was no longer compatible with the standards of the northern neighbor.

This had a considerable impact on shipments. Although they are mainly of continental origin due to the predominance of lagoon aquaculture (farming generates approximately 200,000 tons per year, compared to some 70,000 tons from sea fishing), wild shrimp is a high-value product (the usual export price range is US$10 to US$15 per kilo, compared to US$8 to US$10 per kilo) and provides work for fishermen traditionally dedicated to its extraction.

Window reopens
Fortunately for Mexican fishermen, since October 19 the US government reported that the certification to be able to export wild Mexican shrimp had been restored. In this way, fishermen from both coasts of the country, mainly from the southeast and northwest, will be able to sell their merchandise again to be placed on the other side of the border.

As shown in the following table, this event coincides with an upward trend in price compared to the same dates in the two previous years.Therefore, a window of opportunity has opened to recover the lost time.

As can be seen, the average price range is lower than that of wild shrimp shipments, which is around US $15. In this sense, it is evident that traders have an exceptional opportunity to take advantage of what would be a relaunch of the product.
Announcing new standards can always support sales. Certifications such as Responsible Fish Management (RFM) are an important support, and could be the next step to achieve success on the shelf.

Potential markets
Meanwhile, other destinations could have the potential to expand sales if this momentum can be harnessed. Currently, 88% of the value generated by Mexican shrimp exports comes from shipments to the United States.
The market that comes to light as the first option for expansion is Asia. Japan, where seafood consumption is high, is the second largest destination, but only has a 6% share of total shrimp sales from Mexico between January and August of this year. Incidentally, this is a destination where consumers value the quality of the product, so wild harvesting can be an advantage. To this can be added China, which accounted for 4% of last year's sales.

Lastly, both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are areas to be exploited. Last year the first of these two countries generated 6% of sales, while up to August of this year the second has been the source of 2%. In parallel, France's gastronomic culture should always be a reason to look for opportunities and exceed the US $1.3 million in sales generated in 2020.

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