Tilapia - May 2015
2015-05-20 10:22:12   copyfrom:GLOBEFISH    hits:

ilapia supplies into the international market are slowly growing from other sources in Asia, with Viet Nam set to ramp up production in 2015. Overall demand expected to remain strong in both international and domestic markets with prices remaining firm.


Chinese export volumes of tilapia in 2014 remained stable with 402 000 tonnes exported, while the value was up 4.6% compared with 2013 as prices strengthened globally. Indeed, in 2014, the average Chinese export price of frozen tilapia fillets increased by 4.9% compared with 2013 and stood at USD 4.60 per kg. 
Frozen fillet export volumes, which make up a significant part of overall Chinese tilapia exports (42%), declined by 6.5%, primarily to the main market, the USA. This decline however, was compensated for by higher exports of whole frozen and breaded tilapia. African markets were the main destinations for these category products.
Meanwhile, Iran has emerged as a potential market for tilapia fillets as import volumes increased to 9 286 tonnes in 2014 which means an impressive 171% increase over 2013. The frozen fillet market in Iran used to be dominated by New Zealand hoki, however, tilapia is now making in roads as a cheaper alternative. Pangasius fillets have not been able to enter this market as the fish does not have scales and therefore cannot be consumed due to religious reasons. 
According to INFOFISH estimates, China exported approximately 926 000 tonnes of tilapia as whole fish equivalent in 2014. Live tilapia exports from China to Hong Kong SAR were estimated to be more than 10 000 tonnes for 2014.


Total tilapia import volumes into the US market grew only marginally (+0.7%) in 2014 compared with the previous year. The usual demand from Lent during the first quarter of the year will likely result in increased tilapia imports during this time period.
Frozen fillets, which account for the largest share of imports, experienced 3.2% growth in 2014 compared with the previous year. This marginal import growth was primarily due to lower supplies of both whole frozen and fresh tilapia fillets. On the contrary, these two categories showed growth in the previous reporting period (2013 against 2012). Taiwan (Province of China) substantially declined their frozen tilapia imports to the US market as the domestic market absorbed production. 
Fresh tilapia import volumes in 2014 were 5.6% lower compared with 2013, while the import value declined only marginally (-1%). Honduras remained the largest supplier, growing its exports to the USA by 19.5%. Behind Honduras were Costa Rica and Colombia, with Colombia supplying more in 2014 than in the previous year.
In terms of whole frozen tilapia, contrary to the 2012- 2013 period, imports into the US market in 2014 declined by almost 2 000 tonnes, while the import value rose by USD 8.6 million. The decline can be attributed to the 30% decline in supplies from Taiwan (Province of China) as well as to the fact that the Philippines exported nearly 90 tonnes less during the period under review. Among the newcomers as exporters to this market are Myanmar and Bangladesh, though they both provided only small volumes. Although China has recently been increasingly diverting whole frozen tilapia to the African markets, supplies into the US market increased in 2014. Chinese tilapia in Africa is selling at a price which is lower than the domestic production. Meanwhile, frozen fillet import volumes increased from, Myanmar, Mexico and Viet Nam.


According to Eurostat, during 2014, the EU imported 31 126 tonnes of tilapia, an 8.2% decline from 2013. Of that total, 58% was comprised of frozen fillets, 42% of whole frozen and a small volume of fresh fillets. Spain, the Netherlands and the UK showed positive growth for tilapia imports in 2014 compared with the previous year while other EU countries imported less. 
China was by far the leading supplier in all product categories. Although China reported lower supplies of frozen categories in 2014 compared with 2013, they supplied 15% more fresh tilapia fillets during this period. The decline in frozen supplies from China was somewhat made up for by other suppliers including Viet Nam, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan (Province of China) and Bangladesh. These sources accounted for 32% of frozen fillet supplies to the EU. Interestingly, the average import price of frozen tilapia fillets from Taiwan (Province of China) and Indonesia are higher in comparison with other suppliers due to the premium quality. 
Although imports of whole frozen tilapia into the EU were down by almost 9.5% in 2014, supplies increased from sources in Asia other than China, namely Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia and India. Newcomers included Myanmar and Sri Lanka, which supplied a total of 35 tonnes in 2014. 


Regional production of farmed tilapia was nearly 3.3 million tonnes in 2012 and grew the following year due to affordable prices and rising demand. While most of the supplies entered domestic fresh fish markets, trade also took place between the neighbouring countries. Exports have increased from Indonesia, Thailand and some others countries in South Asia. 
Once the world’s largest tilapia exporter, Taiwan’s (Province of China) exports are again on the rise. Taiwan (Province of China) is second to China in whole frozen tilapia exports with 26 233 tonnes more exported in 2014 compared with 2013. Taiwan (Province of China) supplied about 55% of its frozen tilapia (mostly whole products) to the USA and increased exports of whole frozen tilapia to the Middle East, Canada and Australia. In terms of sashimi quality fillets, exports to Japan increased, fetching an average price of USD 10.25 per kg, though the Taiwan (Province of China) market absorbed most of the production. 
With the ongoing challenges in the pangasius industry, the Vietnamese government is planning to strengthen large-scale sustainable tilapia production and export in 2015, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). The Directorate of Fisheries envision tilapia farming areas will reach 21 000 ha, with a production of 140 000 tonnes and exports of 50 000 tonnes in 2015. By 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to increase the country’s tilapia pond farming area to 25 000 ha, with a production of 200 000 tonnes and exports of 80 000 tonnes. In the first ten months of 2014, the export value of Vietnamese tilapia was USD 27.359 million, an increase of 180% compared with 2013. VASEP announced that the top ten markets took a share of USD 21.705 million (79.34%), which included the USA (21%), Spain and Colombia. 
Tilapia imports into Asian countries are modest as most local production enters the domestic markets. During 2014, approximately 7 000 tonnes were imported into Asia. Hong Kong SAR was the largest importer among Asian countries with a total of 2 514 tonnes of frozen tilapia (whole and fillets). Imports into Japan mainly consisted of izumidai quality (sashimi) tilapia which is supplied by Taiwan (Province of China) as well as imports from the Philippines, most of which is directed to the Filipino community in Japan. Recently, frozen tilapia imports entered new markets, namely Iran, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. 
In the Middle East, where total fishery imports were over USD 1 billion, total tilapia imports (comprising whole, breaded and fillets) were estimated to be over 17  000 tonnes for 2014. About 75% of the share was absorbed by Israel followed by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait. Africa has emerged as a potential target market by many producers in Asia, particularly India and Viet Nam, as tilapia imports have increased in these markets at attractive prices.

Latin America

The National Aquaculture Association of Honduras (ANDAH) estimates that for 2014, Honduras experienced a 5% increase in overall tilapia exports, with growth taking place in the US and Canadian market. Indeed, fresh tilapia fillet exports from Honduras reached record figures in 2014 with a volume of nearly 10 000 tonnes worth USD 75 million, showing a significant increase compared with the 8 200 tonnes exported in 2013 for a value of USD 65 million. 
According to the ANDAH, the domestic market for tilapia is growing, which has resulted in small and medium aquaculture producers moving into farming this species. Tilapia prices in the domestic market vary according to the area of production, type of product and season. During Easter of 2014, tilapia fillets reached a value of USD 2.72 per kg while whole fish sold at USD 1.36 per kg, according to the Honduran Market Information System for Agricultural Products.
In Costa Rica, exports of fresh tilapia fillets to the US market reached a volume of 5 200 tonnes worth USD 42 million in 2014, which is a remarkable decline of almost 25% from 2013, when 6 500 tonnes were exported for a value of USD 54 million.


Besides China, production is expected to increase as demand for tilapia remains strong in both major markets and in the domestic market of producing countries. As a result of this strong demand, prices are likely to stay firm. 

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