Tilapia Raw Material Crisis

As a leading provider of tilapia fish from China, Ocean Treasure witnessed tilapia prices in China go up this year while the raw materials have become extremely scarce, especially for big sizes. Numerous factors, including the environment, available production space, and demand, might have influenced the current tilapia raw material crisis in 2023.

Tilapia is accessible all year, so its price is typically very constant, and the patterns are frequently consistent from year to year. The circumstances this year are different, though. Contrary to expectations, since the end of June, tilapia prices have been steadily rising. Let’s examine the tilapia market conditions to see what the current situation is and what the future outlook is for the industry.

Ocean Treasure | Tilapia low catching

Reduction in US Imports of Tilapia

The market for imported tilapia in the United States is not as strong this year as it was before. The US market structure has changed since the second half of 2022. The excessive tilapia inventory in the USA is still a problem. According to NOAA, during the first four months of 2023, imports of frozen tilapia fillets from the US decreased 11% year over year to 31,735 metric tonnes. About 27,994 tonnes came from China. The co-president of Quanxing Seafood explained that there has been no sign of a recovery in export orders since the fourth quarter of 2022.

Ocean Treasure | US imports of frozen Chinese tilapia

Growing Competition Among Tilapia Suppliers

China continues to be the top tilapia exporter to the United States, providing almost 90% of the country’s imports of frozen fillets. Colombia comes in second with 7,650 metric tonnes, while Honduras comes in third with 3.9 metric tonnes. Latin American production is growing as a result of good exchange rates and its proximity to the US market.

Tariffs on Chinese goods have encouraged imports from secondary producers such as Brazil, Thailand, and Vietnam. The three countries saw sales of frozen whole tilapia to the US increase by 431, 110, and 136 percent, respectively, year-on-year. By 2030, China is expected to go from being the world’s top producer of tilapia to the second-largest producer.

Ocean Treasure | US imports of tilapia

China’s Fisheries Policy Reforms

In 2022, China unveiled its 14th Five-Year National Fisheries Development Plan, which demonstrated the significant structural changes the local fishing industry has been facing. In 2016, China began using technologies that calculate total permitted catches and distribute these across vessels. The overall capture was decreased to 9.5 million tonnes by 2020, and 40,000 working vessels had been removed.

The workforce employed in fishing is likewise declining along with the number of fishing vessels. Fishing workshops in China decreased from 14.1 million in 2015 to 11.8 million in 2021. In addition, the reduction in China’s marine catch will probably be inevitable with the elimination of fishing fuel subsidies.

Government support for the growth of marine ranching has been very significant lately. China intended to construct 200 national-level demonstration marine ranches, according to the National Mariculture Development Plan (2017-2025). The plan was released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Among other reasons, this was done to address China’s worries about food security.

China has undergone a significant transformation in its fishery trade overall. Evolving from a nation that dominated the processing of fish raw materials for re-export to one that increasingly sources premium aquatic products for domestic consumption.

Ocean Treasure | marine ranching

Changes in Local Consumption Preferences

According to specialists at the China Tilapia Industry Development Forum held on June 28 in Guangzhou, China’s tilapia processors have been unable to capitalize on the “3R” trend—ready-to-cook, ready-to-eat, and ready-to-heat.

Instead golden pomfret and catfish, are performing better in their attempts to dominate the rapidly expanding ready-to-cook food sector. Pangasius aquaculture, currently at an early stage in China, might become a new key product for China in the future.

Ocean Treasure | tilapia fillet

A Future Perspective on Tilapia Raw Material

Overall, it can be said that the decline in tilapia raw material farming volume in 2023 was most likely caused by weak worldwide market demand and significant losses incurred by tilapia farmers in south China beginning in 2022. As predicted by the seafood market, China’s production may decrease by 40% by the end of this autumn.

The Chinese tilapia sector is currently going through a process of transformation. China has recently established cooperation agreements in the fields of fishery research and technology, fishing farming, and infrastructural development. The country has made enormous strides in advancing its scientific, technological, and innovation capacities. Its recent initiatives in fish breeding, alternative fish feed, and high-tech fish farming could change the global fishing industry.

Ocean Treasure | tilapia factory

Ocean Treasure: Constantly Monitoring Tilapia Raw Material Prices  

Due to the severe lack of tilapia raw material in all sizes, the majority of facilities have ceased production. On Wednesday, the raw material price from Hainan was USD 1.14 per kg and USD 1.16 per kg in
Guangdong. The price of tilapia fillets (small sizes) increased by more than USD 1.00 per kg in less than 2 weeks. Currently, the price validity for quotations lasts no longer than 2 or 3 days. Price keeps increasing, with no sign of stabilizing any time soon. Ocean Treasure urgently advises customers to lock in prices and place orders as soon as possible. Whether new raw materials will be available in October is still unknown.

Ocean Treasure World Foods Limited commits to fulfilling the requirements of each client by providing first hand seafood news and market information, offering competitive prices, ensuring quality control, and delivering multilingual service. Our team of experts constantly follows the most relevant information in the market and informs clients with daily content online.

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