The production of crustaceans is of great economic importance in China — the republic is the world's largest consumer of various types of crabs, crayfish and shrimp, which are part of Chinese cuisine and are in great demand among the local population. The total volume of production of this type of aquatic biological resources (including the catch and aquaculture of crustaceans in artificial reservoirs) in the country increased from 3.8 million tons in 2003 up to 8.9 million tons in 2022.

In 2004-2010, there was an active development of crustacean aquaculture in China due to both an increase in the number of farms and the use of intensive and improved cultivation methods. The positive trend was temporarily interrupted with the outbreak in 2009 in China and other Asian countries of the epidemic of early shrimp mortality syndrome (acute hepatopancreatic necrosis), which until 2016 significantly limited the production of shrimp at aquaculture enterprises.

In 2018-2022, the volume of crustacean production in China increased by 4.7% on average annually and in 2022 reached the highest value in the last five years of 8.9 million tons, which is 5.1% more than in 2021. At the same time, the main share in the structure of crustacean production in the country is occupied by crabs and crayfish, which accounted for 62.3% of total production (5.5 million tons) in 2022, while the share of shrimp was 37.7%. The average annual growth rate of crab and crayfish production in 2018-2022 also remained higher than the same indicator of shrimp production (6.8% and 1.5%, respectively). 

Initially, shrimp farms in China were established mainly in the southern regions of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Fujian and Zhejiang. Today, shrimp farms are located in almost all coastal Chinese provinces (from Hainan to Liaoning). At the same time, the natural and climatic conditions in the southern and northern regions of China vary greatly: in provinces such as Shandong, Hebei and Liaoning, temperatures for several months can fall below zero, while the southern regions of the country are more affected by tropical monsoons and typhoons, as well as crustacean diseases. Accordingly, China has historically been characterized by significant regional and seasonal differences in methods and volumes of shrimp cultivation. In the last few years, the bulk of the increase in production has been provided by greenhouse-type shrimp farms and farms with a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), which are more resistant to climate change. 

The total shrimp production in China has been gradually increasing over the past five years and reached 3.3 million tons in 2022, which is 2.0% higher than in 2021. The average annual increase in shrimp production in China in 2018-2022 was 1.5%.

In 2022, the main share in the structure of shrimp production was occupied by aquaculture. Over the past five years, the share of aquaculture in shrimp production has increased from 65.3% in 2018 to 71.2% in 2022. At the same time, marine aquaculture in China is more developed than freshwater, due to the economic and geographical location of the country (convenient access to the Pacific Ocean and a long coastline). Thus, in 2022, marine aquaculture accounted for 48.7% of the total shrimp production, while freshwater accounted for only 22.5%. The industrial catch of shrimp in China, on the contrary, is gradually decreasing and in 2022 provided 28.8% of the total production of this type of seafood (in 2018 — 34.7%). 

The difficult epizootic situation and frequent natural disasters significantly limit the development of the aquaculture sector in China, however, the opening of small farms using advanced aquaculture technologies (for example, recycling aquaculture systems) helps to minimize these risks. High-performance and resource-intensive shrimp farming technologies in China are widely supported at the state level. 

China's shrimp needs are almost completely met by significant domestic production. In 2018-2022, the volume of shrimp production in the country increased by 6.2% (from 3.1 million tons to 3.3 million tons). Imports increased 3.9 times over the same period (from 245.3 thousand tons to 945.9 thousand tons).

China produces a large number of types of shrimp, the main of which are:

  • whiteleg shrimp "Litopenaeus vannamei";
  • giant freshwater shrimp "Macrobrachium rosenbergii";
  • tiger shrimp "Penaeus monodon";
  • Japanese freshwater shrimp "Macrobrachium nipponensis";
  • Chinese white shrimp "Penaeus chinensis".

Whiteleg shrimps are the most in-demand products in the Chinese  market, with most of their production in the country coming from breeding  (the aquaculture sector).

In 2022, the volume of shrimp consumption in China amounted to 4,233.6 thousand tons, an increase of 9.7% compared to 2021. In 2018-2022, shrimp consumption in the country  grew by an average of 6.3% per year. 

Over the past 20 years, per capita consumption of fish and seafood in general and shrimp in particular has more than doubled in China. In 2018-2022, shrimp consumption per capita in China increased by an average of 6.2% annually (a one-time decrease of 3.3% in 2020 is associated with the COVID-19 pandemic) and in 2022 reached a record level of 3.0 kg of shrimp per person per year. 

Over the past 20 years, consumption of fish and seafood per capita in general and shrimp in particular has more than doubled in China. In 2018-2022, shrimp consumption per capita in China increased by an average of 6.2% annually (a one-time decrease of 3.3% in 2020 is associated with the COVID-19 pandemic) and in 2022 reached a record level of 3.0 kg of shrimp per person per year.

China is the world's largest importer of crustaceans in general and shrimp in particular. In 2023, the volume of imports of frozen shrimp in China amounted to a record 1.1 million tons worth 5.9 billion US dollars, which is 11.7% (110.7 thousand tons) higher than the level 2022 in volume terms and 4.6% (-283.0 million USD) lower in value. In 2019-2023, the volume of shrimp purchases on foreign markets increased on average annually by 10.6% in volume terms and by 8.4% in value. 

The basis of China's frozen shrimp imports is steadily made up of other shrimps and common prawns - in 2023 accounted for 93.5% of imports in volume (987.4 thousand tons) and 90.7% in value (5.4 billion USD). The share of deep-sea shrimp in 2023 accounted for 6.5% in volume terms (69.2 thousand tons) and 9.3% (549.3 million USD) in value. 

In the structure of imports of frozen shrimps in China in 2019-2023, products from Ecuador prevailed. In 2023, the volume of exports of frozen shrimp from Ecuador to China amounted to 697.3 thousand tons, which amounted to 66.0% of the total volume of imports of this type of product into the country. This country is the world's largest producer and exporter of warm-water shrimp. India took the second place in terms of supplies by the end of 2023, which accounted for 13.4% of total Chinese imports of these products. Also, some of the frozen shrimp were imported to China from Canada (3.0%), Argentina (2.8%) and Thailand (2.5%).

In 2023, relative to the level of 2022, China significantly increased purchases of frozen shrimp in Ecuador (+23.5% or +132.7 thousand tons) and Argentina (+61.9% or +11.5 thousand tons). At the same time, imports from Vietnam decreased significantly (-72.0% or -27.6 thousand tons). 

The main exporter of frozen shrimp to China in value terms in 2023 was Ecuador, which supplied products worth 3.5 billion US dollars (60.0% of imports). Major suppliers also included India (13.4%), Thailand (4.4%), Argentina (3.9%) and Canada (3.6%). 

The largest increase in supply values in 2023 compared to the previous year was demonstrated by Argentina (+58.7% or +85.5 million US dollars). At the same time, imports from Vietnam (-65.7% or -164.9 million US dollars), India (-14.2% or -131.5 million US dollars) and Saudi Arabia (-20.1% or -22.0 million US dollars) significantly decreased. Russia took the seventh place in the list of the largest exporting countries of frozen shrimp to China in 2023, supplying the Chinese market with products worth 122.4 million US dollars.

The average import price of frozen shrimp in 2023 decreased by 14.6% to 5,593 US dollars per ton, which is due to an increase in the total supply of these products on the world market. The high level of competition, as well as the growth and consolidation of shrimp production in Ecuador, have a significant impact on the global market conditions of this type of crustacean. The most expensive products were purchased in Russia at a price of $21,607 per ton (3.9 times higher than the average price) and Thailand at a price of $10,029 per ton (79.3% higher). The most competitive price was fixed for imports from Saudi Arabia — 4,768 US dollars per ton (14.8% lower than the average price) and Peru — 5,013 US dollars (10.4% lower).