Cultured shrimp in The Philippines

The Philippines were the first to develop the culture of several prawn and shrimp species in the 1980’s after which the country was at the front of shrimp aquaculture. In the 1990’s, by far the most widely cultured shrimp species in the Philippines was Penaeus monodon (black tiger shrimp), but when disease struck the majority of shrimp farmers in the country it devastated the industry. While farmers in many countries switched successfully to culturing Litopenaeus vannamei (whiteleg shrimp), this species did not manage to get a strong foothold in the Philippines. Despite the previous collapse of the industry, P. monodon is still the third most cultured seafood species in the Philippines. An estimated 1,500 aquaculture operators are engaged in this industry, ranging from small-scale family enterprises to large corporations. The smaller producers are

responsible for the majority of the country’s production but they mainly produce for the domestic market as their traceability and quality standards are not always sufficient. These small producers sell their fresh harvest directly or via middlemen to local stores and markets although in some cases it is also sold to processing plants for export. The export of P. monodon is dominated by a handful of large Filipino owned companies that farm, process and export their produce themselves. By controlling the supply chain, these companies are able ensure traceability and quality standards needed to export to demanding markets like the European Union. This is especially important with regards to products farmed in areas close to urban centres, since these are often contaminated with pathogens and other residues. P. monodon products are mostly exported peeled, uncooked and frozen to the United States and Japan and smaller markets in Taiwan, Korea and China.


Cultured shrimp

Sourcing news

Production and export statistics

Species wise production

Source: FAO (2018), 2016 numbers are from BFAR (2016)

The volume of farmed P. monodon has remained stable over the past few years, with production levels hoovering around 48,000 MT. FAO figures are in line with figures from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and can be considered accurate. Production is likely to increase slightly since the BFAR is trying to revive the shrimp industry, which is likely to lead to a 10 to 15 percent increase in production the coming years. The availability of numerous empty ponds and the disease free status of the country provides a great opportunity for investors in the Philippine shrimp industry.

Production by region

Source: BFAR annual reports 2012-2016

The regional production figures provided by the BFAR show that except for the capital region all regions are producing P. monodon. Production is centred in regions with the most suitable habitat for brackish water ponds including Central Luzon (Region III), Northern Mindanao (Region

X) and Zamboanga (Region IX). Production in Northern Mindanao has been increasing rapidly in the past 5 years and has almost doubled from 9991 MT in 2012 to 15471 MT in 2016, while production in the western part of Mindanao (Zamboanga) has gone down by 50 percent from 4921 MT in 2012 to 2360 MT in 2016. This can be explained by the fact that Mindanao has long been a politically unstable island where Muslim rebels are fighting for independence. While the situation in recent years has become more stable in the north of the island, the situation in the western part has become more volatile.

Export markets

Source: Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre,

In recent years shrimp exports have been increasing from 8,278 MT in 2013 to 10,124 MT in 2017. As with most seafood products from the Philippines, the United States and Japan are the two biggest buyers of shrimp. Imports from the United States have increased in the past 5 years from 2,793 MT of assorted shrimp species (mainly P. monodon) in 2013 to 3,273 MT in 2017, mainly because American buyers have

started looking for alternative suppliers after Vietnam’s aquaculture industry received bad PR in last years. Japan’s imports decreased between 2011 (3,439 MT) to 2015 (1,896 MT)for unclear reason, but as the figure show the numbers have steady increased the last years. Other significant buyers of Philippines shrimp are Taiwan, Korea and China. The Philippines exported only around 200 – 300 MT of assorted shrimp species to the European Union annually in the past 5 years, most of which going to France. Since the Philippines is focused on reviving its shrimp export sector an increase in shrimp exports can be expected in the near future. With the recently awarded GSP+ status, exports to the European Union are likely to increase even further.

Export products in 2017 (tonnes)

Source: Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre,

Export volumes have also remained stable over the past few years and these figures are also expected to increase. Most shrimp exports from the Philippines consist of frozen products including whole uncooked, peeled uncooked and peeled cooked shrimp. In 2015 the country exported 4,767 MT of assorted frozen shrimp products of which the vast majority consisted of P. monodon. Additionally 926 MT of fresh, dried and salted shrimps were exported and 746 MT of preserved shrimps. Preserved shrimp products include items like canned shrimp sauce and marinated shrimp products.

As the Philippines is focusing on reviving its shrimp export sector an increase in frozen shrimp exports can be expected in the near future.


Last updated: 01/10/2018

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

    # Farms 0
    # Farms in assesment 0
    # CoC partners 1
    Total volume (MT) 0
  • Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)

    # Farms 5
    # Hatcheries 0
    # Feed mills 0
    # Processors 1

Supply Chain

Do you want to more learn about shrimp farming in the Philippines? Contact us!

Risk assessment

Potential environmental risks

  • In the past many mangrove forests were cut to make space for fishponds and on occasions this still happens
  • Pollution of local waters from pond effluents

Potential social risks

  • None

Potential quality and supply chain risks

  • Limited traceability of products produced by most shrimp farmers
  • Few quality controls in disintegrated supply chains
  • Residues of veterinary drugs and heavy metals are common in production areas close to urban centres

Species in The Philippines

Click on the species and find out more about the species in The Philippines