Shrimp in Thailand

With some of the largest companies in the world involved in shrimp farming, processing and exporting, such as Charoen Popkand Group (CP) and Thai Union, Thailand has been a driving force behind the development of the shrimp industry throughout Asia. The shrimp industry in Thailand is characterized by intensive shrimp farms and a relatively high degree of vertical integration with companies involved in feeding, breeding, farming and processing. Thailand’s factories are sophisticated compared to the factories in Vietnam and India and Thailand was one of the first countries in the world specialized in the production of value-added shrimp products. The growth of Thailand’s shrimp industry was abruptly halted by the outbreak of Early Mortality Syndrome, which caused massive mortality, crippling production, processing and export. Production more than halved over a period of 3 years, from 603,227 tonnes in 2011 to 263,245 tonnes in 2014. Exports followed, declining from its peak of 425,000 tonnes in 2010 to its lowest point of 156,000 tonnes in 2015. Although Thailand’s shrimp sector is recovering, and exports are going up again (180,000 tonnes in 2017), it is unlikely that Thailand will ever be able to return to its previous levels of production.


Sourcing news

Production per species

FAO (2018)

Thailand's shrimp production has been severely hit by the Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS), or more specifically acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND), which caused sudden mortality in the shrimp ponds. The outbreak started in 2011 and by the end of 2014 production had halved. According to industry insiders, production is not expected to recover to previous levels anymore. The high

stocking densities, 200 pl/m2, previously used by the Thai shrimp farmers are now regarded to be too risky. Farmers currently stock much lower stocking densities than before. The recovery of production started in 2015 and in 2016 production reached just over 310,000 tonnes. It is expected that the situation will further improve in 2018, as shrimp farmers adopt several strategies to cope with diseases.

State wise production (2014)

DoF (2017). Note that the figures do not include M. rosenbergii volumes.

Intensive shrimp farming is spread over Thailand’s 5 coastal regions. While previous numbers show that the area around Chao Phraya Delta was mainly known for its traditional culture of shrimp, recently, the largest production growth has taken place in Coastal zone 1, with Chanthaburi province as Thailand's largest area of P. vannamei culture. Coastal zone 5, Trang, is the most important region for P. monodon farming. In total, there are around 10,000 to 21,000 farms, covering a total area of 47,291 ha.

Export markets

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

As Thailand’s shrimp production was halted by the outbreak of Early Mortality Syndrome between 2011 – 2013, export volumes and values were affected too. Export volumes dropped over 40% in that period. However, according to the latest data from Trade Map, Thailand exports US$ 1.2 billion worth of

frozen shrimp now, 7.5% more than in 2016. With export volumes increasing from 156,127 tonnes in 2015 to 186,190 tonnes and 181,140 tonnes in 2016 and 2017 respectively, the country is slowly recovering from the outbreaks. Nevertheless, the Thai producers and exporters are facing the crash in global shrimp prices in June 2018, which could result in a lower output in 2018.

The United States is and has always been the largest importer of Thai shrimp species, but export growth was especially driven by the increase of shrimp exports to Asian markets such as Vietnam, Japan and China. Compared to 2013, Vietnam has over quadrupled its Thai shrimp imports in 2017. With better-managed shrimp farms, survival rates have risen. Therefore, it is expected that Thailand will show huge production growth in 2018, once again be among the most important shrimp sourcing destination in the world.

Export products in 2018 (tonnes)

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

Thailand's shrimp exports are almost equally split between the exports of frozen products under HS03 and the exports of value-added products under HS16. This reflects Thailand's unique position as an exporter of value-added products, which it acquired through an early investment in its processing

facilities. Nowadays, most buyers regard Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia as the best sources for value-added shrimp products. India, currently the world's largest vannamei producer, is not yet able to produce significant volumes of value-added products.

Only recently, after Thailand was hit by EMS, Vietnam overtook Thailand’s position as the world's largest exporter of value-added products. With an export volume of around 115,000 tonnes in 2017, a drop from 2011, when Thailand exported around 184,000 tonnes of value-added products. At that time Vietnam only exported 67,000 tonnes.


Last updated: 01/10/2018

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

    # Farm 4
    # Farms in assessment 0
    # CoC partners 3
    Total volume (MT) 1,300
  • Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)

    # Farms 232
    # Hatcheries 15
    # Feed mills 12
    # Factories 25
    # Re-processor 1

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Risk assessment

Environmental risks

  • Mangrove deforestation for shrimp farms
  • Loss of biodiversity due to lack of water treatment

Social risks

  • Forced labour
  • Human trafficking

Quality and supply chain risks

  • Use of antibiotics and chemicals by farmers

Species in Thailand

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