Tilapia Markets in the Middle East and North Africa: Demand Trends and Outlook
(TILAPIA 2010 KUALA LUMPUR - 27-29 October 2010, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) by Izzat Feidi, International Fisheries Consultant
For historical and traditional reasons, markets and marketing of fresh water tilapia in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region is of major importance in mainly two countries: Egypt and the Sudan. However, in recent years, due to the declining trend in landings from capture fisheries coupled with several favourable characteristics several countries in the wider MENA Region where demand for tilapias is growing, have introduced tilapia farming in their aquaculture projects.
World production of tilapias has increased from 1.9 million tonnes to 2.8 million tonnes to 3.6 million tonnes in 2000, 2005 and 2008 respectively. This trend is also followed in the MENA Region. Fourteen countries capture and/or culture tilapia. Their total production increased from 322,000 tonnes, to 370,000 tonnes and 518.241 tonnes for the same years representing about 14.6 percent of total world production in 2008. Egypt produced over 92 percent of the region’s total production.
The demand trend depends mainly on the size of the market. This may be assessed by examining the current per capita levels of seafood consumption in the countries where tilapia is produced and consumed. Since statistics do not indicate the consumption of tilapia from other seafood products, it would be difficult to pinpoint the level of tilapia consumption separately. The average annual per capita fish consumption in MENA countries where tilapia is consumed does not exceed 11.3 kg. Egypt, the highest producer and consumer in the region has a per capita consumption of around 15 kg/annum. Almost all tilapia produced in the region is locally consumed. Very modest quantities of tilapia products are imported from China by countries in the Gulf area and Israel.
The future outlook of the market for tilapias in the MENA region is encouraging not only in the fourteen countries surveyed but also in seven other countries where there is interest and potential to farm tilapias. Demand may be measured by the rate of growth in the populations. In 2010 the total population of the 14 countries is 285.4 million people and is estimated to become 334.0 million people in 2020 at a growth rate of 2.6 percent /annum. At a per capita consumption rate of 11.3 the MENA region will require 3.2 million tonnes of fish to meet demand which may include at least 600,000 tonnes of tilapias. The encouraging factors for the increase in tilapia trade, mostly from imports, are the growth in domestic demand due to increasing acceptance of tilapias. New tilapias farmers feel the encouraging possibilities to export value-added tilapias products not only inter-regionally but also to the European as well as to the United States markets.