Cultured shrimp in Vietnam

Home to some of the biggest seafood companies worldwide, like Minh Phu Seafood Corporation, Quoc Viet, Stapimex and Camimex, Vietnam is one of the largest shrimp producers in the world with a production of 683,000 tonnes in 2017. Its shrimp sector is very diverse, ranging from organic mangrove Penaeus monodon (black tiger shrimp) to small size Litopenaeus vannamei (whiteleg shrimp) from super intensive farms. The Mekong Delta is the most important farming area, accounting for nearly 80% of overall shrimp production and being home of all the top five contributing provinces Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Ben Tre and Kien Giang. Besides production, Vietnam is also an important processing hub and imports large volumes of head-on shell-on (HOSO) products from Ecuador and India that are processed into many different value-added products before being re-exported.

Vietnam remains an attractive source for shrimp products thanks to many years of experience in production and processing, its excellent infrastructure (between hatcheries, farms and factories), high production outputs and food safety standards, skilled workforce and other favourable factors such as the  Free Trade Agreement with the EU.

Cultured shrimp
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Sourcing news

Shrimp production and export statistics

Species wise production

Source: 2013 to 2016 data is from the FAO (2018), 2017 data was only available for P. monodon and L. vannamei and is from VASEP (2018), 2018 data is from January - June and was only available for P. monodon and L. vannamei and is from VASEP (2018).

Vietnam is the world leader in P. monodon shrimp farming. L. vannamei was introduced in 2008, since then many farmers shifted to this species because of

higher productivity and potential higher profits. Due to disease and salinity affecting the L. vannamei in early 2016 the production was behind.

Although Vietnam suffered from the consequences of a strong “La Niña” in 2017, overall output has been good and the country is on its way to greatly increased production. The volumes for the first half of 2018 show and increased in production of 5% and 13% for P. monodon and L. vannamei respectively compared to 2017. This increase is a result of government and industry investments in high-quality post-larvae, feed and intensive farming, as well as in infrastructure such as laboratories and power grids. Beside this, farmers have become more professional after the EMS outbreaks and have transitioned from P. monodon to the more productive L. vannamei farming. L. vannamei took over P. monodon production in terms of volume in 2013. The government has also increased monitoring and regulation of hatchery operators in particular, which contributes to an improved quality of available post-larvae for farmers.

Macrobrachium rosenbergii (freshwater prawn) contributes only about 1.3% to the total production and is almost exclusively consumed domestically.

Production by region

Source: Statistics Office of Viet Nam (2018)

Shrimp is farmed on a total surface of 620,000 hectares in all provinces throughout the country. The most important farming areas are the Mekong Delta, which accounts for more than 82% of the total production. The northern central coast and central coast area are responsible for just over 11% of the annual production, followed by the South-East (4%)

and the Red River Delta (3%). Both P. monodon and L. vannamei shrimp are cultured in the Mekong Delta, while in the Northern Central Coast and Central Coast only L. vannamei is farmed. In terms of production for 2016 by province in the Mekong Delta region, Ca Mau is the leader by far contributing 27%, followed by Soc Trang (21%), Bac Lieu (20%), Ben Tre (9%) and Kien Giang (11%).

Shrimp export markets

Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre, Note that 2017 figures are mirror data, and that these have not been reported yet by China. Import figures for the European Union and Switzerland (CHE) are combined in one group, as Switzerland is also a large importer of Vietnamese shrimp. Value data is used as it allows to compare with national export data.

Shrimp is the most important aquaculture species in

Vietnam in terms of export revenues. In its ‘​Report on Vietnam Seafood Exports in 2017’​, VASEP reports US$ 878 mln of black tiger shrimp exports and US$ 2.5 bln of Pacific white shrimp exports. The EU has become the largest importer of Vietnamese shrimp in value, with exports of US$ 839 mln. China is a rising market as well, but exports are currently hampered as a result of imposed restrictions of entry of farm animals from Vietnam to China due to excess antibiotics. Exports volumes and values have been decreasing to the US, which also tentatively set a 25% anti-dumping rate early March 2018 on frozen warm water shrimp from Vietnam. This rate, however, is not final until September and is likely a result of a miscalculation (Undercurrent News, 2018).

It is important to highlight that not only Vietnam’s exports have increased, also its imports increased. In 2017, India exported US$ 334 mln of shrimp products to Vietnam (a 25% increase compared to 2016). Indian shrimp is re-processed in Vietnam and then re-exported mostly to Europe, the US and China. The figure above do not include shrimp that is smuggled via Haiphong, Vietnam into China.

Export products in 2017 (US$ mln)

Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre, Note that this figure shows mirror data.

In the first half of 2017, shrimp exports consisted mainly out of whiteleg shrimp (>60%), black tiger composed over 25% of the exports and the remaining were mainly other marine shrimp species. While for whiteleg shrimp 44% was exported processed and 56% unprocessed (fresh/frozen/live),

around 90% of black tiger shrimp was sold as unprocessed.

The preferred export form is frozen shrimp and prawns. This product group was responsible for more than 60% of the annual sales in 2017, which is not much different from the previous years. Prepared or preserved shrimps and prawns without airtight container account for over 33% of annual sales, while the same product packed in airtight containers makes up for 5.5%, which is an increase in non-airtight and a decrease in airtight products. However, as this is mirror data this could still change.

As mentioned in the introduction, Vietnam has become an important processing hub for shrimp products. Large volumes of HOSO shrimp are imported to Vietnam, from countries such as India and Ecuador, and processed to value-added products before being re-exported. This trend will likely further increase.


Last updated: 01/10/2018

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

    # Farms 85
    # Farms in assessment 117
    # CoC partners 43
    Total volume (MT) 37,173
  • Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)

    # Farms 65
    # Hatcheries 13
    # Feed mills 8
    # Factories 38

    # Farms 19

Supply Chain

Interested to create value with naturally raised P. monodon shrimp farmed in integrated mangrove systems in Ca Mau? Contact us!

Risk assessment

Environmental risks

  • Overfishing due to use of unsustainable feed (indirect impact)
  • Biodiversity loss due to large-scale monoculture and mangrove deforestation
  • Water pollution
  • Coastal erosion

Social risks

  • Workers’ safety in factories
  • Workers’ rights in factories
  • Neighbourhood conflicts due to resource exploitation and water pollution
  • Bankruptcy resulting in losses for employees and creditors

Quality and supply chain risks

  • Bad quality and contamination (e.g. traces of unwanted chemicals, treatment of products to increase weight such as Agar injection)
  • Lack of traceability with doubtful sources of origin
  • Food safety issues with excessively high bacterial loads
  • Issues in cold supply chain due to loading/unloading

Species in Vietnam

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