Shrimp in Brazil

Brazil started the farming of Litopenaeus vannamei (whiteleg shrimp) in 1970, copying the projects of Ecuador and Panamá. Despite the very extensive area suitable for shrimp farming, production volume is quite low compared to neighbouring countries. In 2003 the Brazilian shrimp farming industry collapsed as a result of disease outbreaks and heavy floods, and only got back on its feet in 2016 with a production of 90,000 tonnes. However, with new white spot outbreaks, the production volume in 2017 will likely be lower, around 65,000 tonnes. Brazil currently uses 18,500 ha of the total 600,000 ha of potential shrimp farming area. Due to increasing investments in R&D shrimp production is expected to continue to grow gradually.  With production levels being low, only 2% is being exported due to the high demand from the domestic market. In order to meet domestic demand, there is a lobby in Brazil to open up the market for imports from third countries, which resulted in a government order to allow imports of certain shrimp products from Ecuador in 2017. In January 2018, the first containers from Ecuador arrived. However, whether this market opening will sustain is not clear yet because the political situation in Brazil is unstable which results in often shifting policies.


Sourcing news

Shrimp production and export statistics

Species wise production

Source: FAO (2017)

Since 2010 there has been no Brazilian authority that kept statistics on aquaculture production, so this graph is based on data from the FAO and Brazilian Shrimp Farmers

Association (ABCC). L. vannamei is the main cultured shrimp species in Brazil. FAO statistics differ ABCC. The FAO presents quite stable production volumes ranging from 65,000 tonnes to 75,000 tonnes. In comparison to 2012, only a slight decrease in 2013. In 2014 and 2015 the production of L. vannamei seemed to be on the good track again. The ABCC, however, estimates that the production in 2015 was approximately 76,000 tonnes, which is a decrease of 10.6 % compared to ABCC's estimated volume for 2014.

Nevertheless, both the FAO and ABCC figures show a quite optimistic image of future L. vannamei production. In 2016, shrimp production increased with 14.4 percent to 87,000 tonnes, reaching similar levels in 2003, when shrimp output had a peak of about 90,000 tonnes. 2017 ended with production of about 65,000 tonnes due to new outbreaks of white spot disease. Despite the extensive area of Brazil that is suitable for shrimp farming, production volume is still quite low compared to neighboring countries.

Production per state in 2014 (tonnes)

Source: National production figures

Most of the production of vannamei shrimp takes place in the north-eastern part of Brazil. The states of Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte produce about 90% of the total volume. There is some local farming more to the south in the Santa Catarina province, but this production is entirely used for the domestic market.

Export markets

Source: Trade Map (2017), International Trade Centre,

About 98% of shrimp production is used for Brazil's domestic market. Between 2012 and 2016 shrimp exports from Brazil were fluctuating between 445 and 1,045 tonnes. In 2013, for the first time, the export volume was above 1,000 tonnes, but dropped again in 2014. ABCC indicates that raising price levels of L. vannamei in Brazil (20 percent above import cost from Ecuador) might be a reason for the decline in export volumes. Also the high currency rates and strong national

market make export difficult. Before the prices raised, imports were higher in the growing markets of Asia and the Middle East, supported by the lower market prices.

In 2016 export volumes showed a relatively large increase, while value decreased by 6.2% percent to $7,179 million USD. The lower value of shrimp products is likely a result of reducing price levels, which have dropped to about 15% below the costs of importing Ecuadorian L. vannamei. Around 90% of the shrimp export volume is exported to Japan and EU countries, with France as the principle buyer. Besides Japan and the EU, Vietnam is also a major buyer. The remaining exports go to countries like Paraguay and the United States.

Export products in 2016 (tonnes)

Source: Trade Map (2017), International Trade Centre,

The graph above indicates that shrimp exports from Brazil largely consist of peeled products, which are: raw block, semi- IQF or individually quick frozen (IQF). Some factories in Brazil also process value-added products, mainly under the supervision of the buyers. The exports of value-added products exported under HS1605 (prepared or preserved crustaceans and molluscs) have decreased by 12.8% and 38.9% in the last two years. In 2016, only 0.6% of the

exported shrimps were value-added. This suggests that buyers use Brazil as a source of raw frozen shrimp since Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese processors produce new and special products (such as: breaded shrimp and other higher value-added forms of shrimp). These countries cited increased sales of value-added products to Japan and the EU, which also are the main export markets of Brazil. It is likely that Brazilian exporters can or will not compete with the Asian suppliers.


Last updated: 01/06/2018

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

    # Farms
    # Farms in assessment
    # CoC partners 1
    Total volume (MT)

Production systems

Risk assessment

Environmental risks

  • Loss of biodiversity. As aquaculture in Brazil is growing,the number of ponds is increasing the deterioration of the natural surroundings
  • Water pollution. The Brazilian institutions actively control the pollution of the water quite intensively but the smaller farmers are difficult to control
  • Entry of diseases to/from sea or the Amazon rivers
  • Salinization

Social risks

  • Workers safety and rights in production plants and farms
  • Criminality (thefts of shrimps)
  • Informality, corruption of governmental institutions, and a lack of associations
  • Neighbourhood conflicts

Quality and supply chain risks

  • Climate, especially in the Amazon Delta region
  • High demand of the national market. For example, it is easier to sell to a Brazilian company than to a European company
  • Lack of international certifications like GlobalG.A.P., ASC, BRC and IFS
  • Slow governmental process at all stages (documents, permits, export certificate, etc.)
  • Governmental instability

Species in Brazil

Click on the species and find out more about the species in Brazil