Ecuador: Shrimp Producers Struggle with Declining Prices and Rising Costs

Shrimp producers in Ecuador are facing a challenging situation as they grapple with a combination of rising costs and falling prices, which poses a serious threat to the industry, warns José Antonio Camposano, the director of the National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA). 99% of the shrimps produced in Ecuador are exported, and despite the country’s exports increasing by 21% to 858 million pounds in the first four months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, Camposano sees the livelihoods of the industry’s 30,000 employees at risk. „In Ecuador, there are 4,300 shrimp producers who cannot cover their production costs, which means their working capital is running low or already depleted,“ says the director of the CNA.

On one hand, the decline in prices by $0.98 per pound in the first half of 2023 has resulted in losses of $1 billion. At the same time, the costs of wheat, soy, and fishmeal have increased. Labor wages in Ecuador are now the second-highest in Latin America following an increase in the minimum wage. In December, a subsidy program for diesel fuel provided by the neoliberal government of Guillermo Lasso expired for farms larger than 30 hectares. This has led to higher costs of $0.16 per pound for 82% of the country’s farms. Additionally, incidents of violence and theft targeting shrimp producers and their property have forced companies to invest $80 million in security technology and private security firms.