India is one of the world's largest seafood producers and top exporter of fish and fish products to the major developed markets of the world such as US, Europe, South East Asia, Japan, and the Middle East. The sector contributes 1.1% of India's GDP and 5.2% of the share of agriculture's GDP of India. India's buoyant seafood industry has emerged as the largest group in agricultural exports of the country. With a series of government initiatives and policy support, The Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA), forecasts that India will achieve an export target of USD 10 billion by 2022.

The country holds a huge potential for fisheries with a long coastline spanning about 8,129 km in addition to inland water resources (rivers and canals, reservoirs, ponds, tanks, and brackish water). The Indian seafood industry is an important sector of food production, providing nutritional security (such as protein, healthy fats and other nutrients like long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, vitamin D, and calcium) and deploying about fourteen million people across different activities such as harvesting, processing, packaging, and distribution.

India's domestic consumption as well as the export of marine products have observed tremendous growth in recent years. The predominantly unorganized fisheries demand is getting increasingly organized. The changing lifestyle of people and food habits coupled with a rising appetite for healthy food is creating higher demand for processed fish in the urban areas. This, in turn, is creating a way for various players to invest and increase the accessibility of processed products for consumers.

This article gives an insight into the Indian seafood industry by indicating the growth factors driving the market, investment opportunities, and highlighting the potential it holds for both domestic and international stakeholders.

India, a Growing Market

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) , India accounts for approximately 6% share in global fish production and a 7% share in global aquaculture fish production . It is projected that fish production of the country will reach over 13.4 million MT by 2030 from 10.8 million MT in 2016. In terms of trade, it is expected that exports will grow at 61.2% through 2016 – 2030, rising from 1.1 million MT in 2016 to 1.7 million MT in 2030 and imports moving down by 20.1% in the same period.

During 2016-17, the share of inland fish farming reached almost 67% of India's fish production. Currently, the share of inland fishery production in India exceeds the marine production, with Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujrat, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu being the top five states for inland fishery production.

Top 10 States in Total Fish Production in India (2016-17) in '000 Tons

Export Scenario

Fish and fish products have currently emerged as the largest group in agricultural exports from India and accounted for 2% of the total export earnings during the last four years (FY14 – FY17). Besides, despite the continued uncertainties in global seafood market (due to an oversupply of fish and fish products – mainly shrimp from Ecuador and Argentina in 2017), increased supply from Vietnam and Thailand, drop in global shrimp prices, and issues related to antibiotic residues, etc., India's seafood industry has maintained its global trade position.

  • During FY 2017-18, Indian shipment of 1,377,244 MT of seafood reached an all-time-high (valued at USD 7.08 billion) from 1,134, 948 MT in the previous year, (valued at USD 5.77 billion), registering an annual growth rate of 21.3%
  • US and South East Asia have continued to be the major import markets of India's seafood products, with a share of 32.7% and 31.6% respectively in value terms, followed by EU which accounted for 15.7%, Japan at 6.3%, Middle East as 4.1% and China occupying 3.2% share.
  • The overall export of shrimp during 2017-18 was over 565,980 MT worth USD 4,848.2 million, while US continues to be the largest market (225,946 MT) for frozen shrimp, followed by South East Asia (159,145 MT), EU (78,426 MT), Japan (33,828 MT), Middle East (23,441 MT) and China (13,107 MT).

Market Wise Exports for Seafood from India (2017-18)

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