Monthly Archives: October 2014

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    Tilapia vs Other Proteins – Not the Aquatic Chicken Just Yet.

Tilapia vs Other Proteins – Not the Aquatic Chicken Just Yet.


The fresh tilapia fillet market in North America has not grown in over 10 years; it is at year after year at around 1 million pounds per week. Price is not the only challenge holding back fresh fillet volume in North

America; I believe there are other factors at play. Globally, farmed tilapia is only 3% of farmed chicken production. A challenge for new Brazilian, Vietnamese and Mexican producers targeting the US tilapia fillet market. First you have to realize that other more established tilapia producers in China, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Honduras, Ecuador and Colombia who have a head start in the market must be considered. In the fresh fillet market the growth of new tilapia producers was only because another tilapia producer, for one reason or another, left the market. For example Ecuador, once the biggest producer left tilapia, to go after more profits in shrimp. This greatly helped emerging Honduran and Mexican fresh fillets. They simply replaced the Ecuadorian and some of the Costa Rican supply, however - no growth - the same gross amount of 1 million pounds per week remains.

The other challenge for tilapia fillet sales are low prices for Asian catfish and frozen tilapia from China, pushing down the overall tilapia prices for whole, frozen and fresh tilapia. Even though it’s frozen, Chinese tilapia fillets and whole fish still set a benchmark price for around $2/lb.,for fillets., less than$1.00/ lb. for whole, with non-Chinese (Indonesian, Thai, Mexican) frozen fillets selling closer to $3/lb. But non-Chinese frozen fillets compete in less than 10% of the frozen fillet market.

There is certainly downward price pressure from the Asian cat fish and Chinese frozen fillet volume impacting the fresh fillets. In the [...]

South Florida live – Tilapia Producers Burst on the Scene


For U.S. tilapia producers, there is one big question regarding the live tilapia market in this country.   This important question is: Will history repeat itself as dramatically as it did in the 1980s when U.S. fillet producers lost their businesses to lower tech, lower cost producers from Central and South America? Once again there is a “north vs. south” competitive dynamic taking place in eastern U.S. live tilapia markets. Although many of the so-called southern producers (in Florida) may speak Spanish, their farms and the farmers are in the U.S.A. The U.S. live market is witnessing an explosion of outdoor, lower tech tilapia production taking place on new South Florida farms.

Within the last two years, at least 10 to 12 new farms have come on line in South Florida with an annual estimated production of 4 to 5 million pounds (lb.). This is “new” lbs. per year, and it is targeting northern markets. This market is estimated at 7 to 8 million lbs., principally in New York City and Toronto where the Asian consumer lives. This market and supply has been steady for at least the last 5 years. It has been supplied by 10 to 12 indoor farms up north, ranging from 250,000 lbs. to 3 million lbs. / year. 

An American Tilapia Survivor Speaks Out


It gives me great satisfaction to be writing the Tilapia column for the resurrected Aquaculture Magazine. This magazine and I have a connection going back to when I started my career in the early 1980’s. I remember waiting anxiously to receive the magazine, and reading it cover to cover. It provided real stories of other commercial activities starting in the budding aquaculture industry. To be American and surviving in commercial tilapia farming through the 1980’s was a challenge for anyone raising a human family. It was continuous musical chairs of jobs and experiences, making mistakes and waiting for a market to bloom. By 1991, I felt like the old man in the sea of tilapia. I wrote a couple of articles for the magazine, the first (Nov/Dec 1991, Vol 17, Number 6), titled An American Tilapia Survivor Speaks Out, was about my early journey in tilapia farming from 1978 - 1991.

Be Careful What You Wish For – Social Media


With the rise of the social media phenomenon and the growth of blogs, websites and chat rooms, anybody with an idea, a cause and time can gain an audience to express a point of view.

I’m even making use of this right now in this article. This can be a good thing, to have a vehicle allowing these freedoms. However, along with these expressions of free speech, authors soon realize that it’s the negative that sells and the sensationalist headline-grabbing words that really attract attention.

With regard to tilapia, we have noticed more and more attacks from health, nutrition, cooking, seafood and environmental blogs with stories titled “Eating Tilapia Worse than Eating Bacon and Donuts,” “Farmed Tilapia Good for the Environment, Bad for You,” “Tilapia Eat Poop,” “Tilapia Raised on Feces Hits U.S. Tables” and “Tilapia - The Geneti- cally Modied Fish.” It goes on and on, simply Google the word tilapia and a high percentage of the hits are sensationally titled and negative. But does this really matter?