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Traceability in Farmed Shrimp

Today’s shrimp supply chains are long, complex, and often opaque. Without visibility, it is impossible to handle food safety concerns, prove legality, and verify sustainability—all issues that consumers, investors, regulators, and media are increasingly demanding. Traceability is essential to demonstrating that a product is ethically and sustainably sourced.

Despite the growing number of regulations being put in place, opportunities for fraud, labor rights violations, and environmental degradation remain extensive in the food sector – especially in the seafood industry. It is incredibly challenging to document activities that occur far from the shore with little to no monitoring mechanisms, such as illegal transshipment of both food and feed products, human rights violations on fishing vessels, or even destruction of natural ecosystems. If traders are unable to track the origin of products, it puts company reputations all along the supply chain at risk, raises significant shareholder concerns, and impacts brand value and corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Traceability has become recognized as an integral process to address issues of food safety and food quality by governments and businesses and to verify claims of sustainable and responsible production. When retailers know which farms, processors, and feed producers played a role in producing their goods, they can hold them accountable, drive improvement, and help move the industry towards more environmentally and socially responsible practices.

The food traceability market is forecasted to reach $19.7 billion globally by 2022. 

© Antonio Busiello / WWF-US
Farmed shrimp supply chains are complex networks that involve thousands of farms, processors, traders, export/import companies, and buyers across the globe.


U.S. companies are already required to comply with NOAA Fisheries’ Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new rules to expand traceability requirements for many types of food products, including farmed and wild-caught seafood.
Consumers are increasingly asking where their food is coming from and demanding companies provide that information. Similarly, Investors are increasingly making decisions that incorporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors.
Through increased traceability, businesses can better understand their operations and the potential risks and opportunities within their supply chain and verify that a product is safe and ethically and sustainably sourced, helping to avoid operational and reputational risks.
Better data is better for business. Traceability data can help reduce recall costs, streamline production planning, and help companies make data-driven management decisions.


  • Make a commitment to source farmed shrimp that is traceable to the source farm.

  • Join precompetitive platforms like the Seafood Task Force to leverage industry momentum and tools for stronger oversight and faster transition towards more sustainable and responsible seafood.

  • Source shrimp from farms that are certified by leading standards such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) that provide assurance that a product was produced in accordance with leading environmental and social practices.

  • Use accessible technologies to demonstrate a product is fully traceable to its source and require suppliers to do the same.

  • Be transparent about your farmed shrimp sourcing and report progress towards your goals.


A range of digital tools are emerging for businesses to improve traceability and accountability across their supply chain – from customizable conventional technologies to blockchain based systems linked to IoT devices and satellites. However, the fact remains that regardless of the technology being used, supply chain oversight is more effective when employed collaboratively with stakeholders that share the same objectives. 

© Audra Melton / WWF-US


Working alongside stakeholders from the farmed shrimp industry, WWF developed an open-source, free, cloud-based smartphone app and desktop web portal called transparenC. The transparenC application can be used by farmers, buyers, and everyone in between. The affordable option avoids expensive licensing fees that have hindered past technological efforts.

Conceived in collaboration by WWF and Republic Systems, the app was developed using farmed shrimp as a test case, but the tool can easily be applied to other commodity supply chains. This user-friendly system prioritizes connecting different supply chain actors, which is a critical step towards understanding where our food comes from.

© Scott Dickerson / WWF-US

Elemental Profiling

In addition to digital tools, there are also scientific techniques that exist to verify the origin of seafood products. For example, elemental profiling is a type of forensic analysis that can help authenticate the origin of farmed shrimp products using the unique fingerprint of metal ions left by the soil and water that the shrimp were grown in.

WWF has been working with researchers from Auburn University to undergo an elemental profiling assessment to determine the geographic origin of farmed shrimp from Thailand, India, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

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