2015 closes with markets flooded with low-value tilapia

According to the latest FAO Globefish report, markets are flooded with low-value tilapia and demand in the USA remains stagnant.
April 5, 2016

During the first nine months of 2015, national sources report that nearly 170,000 tonnes of frozen tilapia fillets were imported into major markets. Import prices declined in most markets during the period under review. Imports of lower priced whole frozen tilapia appear to be more popular in the USA.

Chinese production remains sluggish, reflecting a slow market particularly in the USA, China\'s largest market for tilapia. As a result, some companies are reducing their processing of tilapia, industry sources report.

According to the National Fisheries Institute, US per capita consumption of tilapia in 2014 grew marginally to 1.436 kg (1.430 kg in 2013).

During January-August 2015, the EU imported 11.3% less tilapia, totaling 18 805 tons compared with the same period in 2014. Supplies fell from most sources indicating a generally weak market. Imports declined into most EU countries except for Germany, Italy and Portugal, while the Netherlands overtook Spain as the largest market, though most Dutch tilapia imports are re-exported within Europe.

The Directorate of Fisheries in Viet Nam reports that tilapia exports are expected to reach USD 130-150 million by 2020. Vietnamese tilapia has been exported to more than 60 countries, with the USA, Spain, Colombia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, the UK, the Czech Republic, and Italy being the top importers in that order.

In 2014, the country had 16,000 hectare of tilapia farms last year, which produced a total of 125,000 tonnes. For 2015, farming area in the country is expected to grow to 21,000 hectare with production predicted at 150,000 tonnes. Under the tilapia breeding master plan, which looks out to 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development encourages institutes, universities and enterprises to import fry for research and breeding. It also urges regions to establish links between tilapia farmers, processors and exporters.

In Honduras, tilapia production in 2015 is estimated to total between 10 000-11 000 tonnes. Tilapia fillet prices have remained relatively steady throughout the year. In the domestic market, prices of tilapia fillets are USD 1.56 per kg, while whole tilapia is 0.90 USD per kg.

In Costa Rica, export prices of tilapia fillets to the USA have remained stable for 2015, between USD 2.50-3.00 per kg. Costa Rica has become an important exporter of tilapia fillets to the USA, competing with other Latin American countries such as Honduras and Ecuador. The domestic Costa Rican market imports tilapia from Asia, which is frozen with origins not clearly identified. In addition to the Asian sources, more than 730 local, mostly small-scale producers in Costa Rica sell their tilapia for domestic consumption.

Read the full FAO Globefish report.