International trade stays positive with promising African markets
The weak positions of the USA and EU, the major tilapia markets, continue into the first quarter of 2016. Nevertheless, international trade remained positive. Based on reporting by major markets and producers, total global tilapia exports are estimated to have increased by 18% during the first quarter of 2016, while imports are estimated to have grown by 15% compared with the same period in 2015. In addition to Asia and Latin America, which continue to produce and consume a growing amount of tilapia, African markets are increasingly taking a larger share of exports. Tilapia farming is also proving to play an important role in food security of countries in the Pacific, such as Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Total exports of Chinese frozen tilapia experienced a year-on-year 3% decline in volume during the first quarter of 2016 mainly due to lower exports of frozen fillets (-13%). However, exports of breaded fillets and whole frozen tilapia were up by 9.8% and 2.4% respectively.
In terms of prices, average export prices of frozen tilapia in 2016 weakened further for all product groups. Export prices of frozen fillets were down 14.4% to USD 3.6 per kg, whole frozen by 6.5% to USD 2.04 per kg and breaded fillets by 11.8% to USD 3.86 per kg.
The USA remains the main market for Chinese frozen tilapia. In a new development however, Côte d’Ivoire overtook the USA as the largest Chinese market for whole frozen tilapia by importing 6 425 tonnes from China during the first quarter of 2016. This was an enormous 307% increase from the same period in 2015. Other African markets experiencing growth in Chinese whole frozen tilapia include Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. Although average export prices to these African markets declined during the period under review, these markets paid higher prices (USD 2.20-2.60 per kg) compared with the US market (USD 1.79 per kg) due to strong demand, higher import tariffs and more nascent trade ties. It is important to note that imported tilapia represents a challenge for the development of domestic tilapia aquaculture in Africa.
For frozen fillets, which make up 40% of Chinese tilapia trade, exports declined to most markets including the USA. Notably, there was positive growth in exports to Iran, which indicates its potential as a growing market for tilapia fillets. Chinese exports of frozen fillets to Iran reached 3 600 tonnes during the 2016 first quarter, 59% up from the same period in 2015. The market has turned to tilapia as a cheaper source of frozen fish fillets compared with the popular New Zealand hoki.
In contrast, Chinese exports of frozen breaded tilapia experienced positive growth (+9.8%) into the main markets of Mexico, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo and Kenya.
Total tilapia imports into the US market during the first quarter of 2016 were 14% lower in terms of volume and 24% less in value terms compared with the same period of last year. 61 400 tonnes were shipped into the country valued at USD 247 976 million.
During the first three months of the year, China as usual remained the main tilapia supplier to the USA with 46 700 tonnes imported worth USD 166 838 million. These figures demonstrate a year-on-year decrease of 17% in volume and 29% value. The product mainly imported was frozen.
Other important suppliers, such as Honduras, Indonesia, Costa Rica and Mexico also registered drops in shipments to the USA, while Colombian exports of tilapia during January-March 2016 rose by 11.6% volume wise and 10% value wise.
Colombia’s interest in the US market was demonstrated during the Seafood Expo North America 2016 in Boston where 14 Colombian companies participated. The potential growth of Colombia as a tilapia supplier to the US market is largely driven by the Free Trade Agreement signed three years ago. Colombia is also targeting other potential markets such as Chile, Spain, France, the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland.
For now, Honduras maintains its leadership in the Latin American region as the largest exporter of fresh tilapia to the USA, despite the drop in production volume as a result of the drought caused by El Niño.
The weak demand in the EU persisted during the first quarter of 2016 as the EU imported 15.9% less total frozen tilapia compared with the same period in 2015. In total, the EU imported 6 600 tonnes of tilapia during this period. Both categories of frozen fillets and whole frozen tilapia, which take up almost equal shares, experienced declines of 7.3% and 26.4% respectively. Within the EU, Spain imports the largest volume of tilapia, mostly fillets although like elsewhere in the EU, imports declined during the review period.
Asia remains the main supply source to the EU, with the top five suppliers being China, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan Province of China making up nearly 99% of the total. Frozen tilapia fillets from Taiwan Province of China fetch premium prices due to high quality. In the whole frozen category, imports increased from Bangladesh, with this tilapia primarily consumed by the ethnic population of Bangladeshi residents in the EU.
Taiwan Province of China
In the first quarter of 2016, total exports of frozen tilapia from Taiwan Province of China experienced 18% growth compared with the same period in 2015 to total 6 000 tonnes. The whole frozen tilapia makes up 90% of total frozen tilapia exports, with the first quarter showing 20% growth in this product category for exports to the major markets, namely the USA and the Middle East. Together, the US and Middle Eastern markets took an 88% market share of whole frozen tilapia exports from Taiwan Province of China. In contrast, frozen tilapia fillet exports experienced a marginal decline (-0.48%). Main markets for this product category are the USA, Republic of Korea, Canada and Japan.
Despite weakening in the major markets, the outlook seems promising amidst production problems in China as demand continues to be strong in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The species is also growing in importance for food security in the Pacific and the some parts of West Asia.
The report analyses the tilapia market situation over the period January-June 2016
The field of aquaculture has, over the decades, witnessed significant growth owing to the surging demand for aquatic food stuffs, which in turn, has resulted in the increased demand for aqua feed. A report studying the performance of the global aqua feed market has been recently added to the colossal database of Market Research Reports Search Engine (MRRSE). The 88-page research report is titled “Aqua Feed Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013 – 2019” and is a concise yet information-packed analysis of the global aqua feed market.
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The most significant players operating in the global aqua feed market include Cermaq ASA, Avanti Feeds Ltd., Tongwei, Alltech Inc., Ridley Corporation, Norel Animal Nutrition, NK Ingredients Pte Ltd., Dibaq Aquaculture, Nutreco N.V., Aller Aqua A/S, Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company Limited, Cargill Incorporated, BioMar A/S, Nutriad, and Beneo GmbH.
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An international scientific team led by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Tel Aviv University has identified and characterized a novel virus behind massive die-offs of farmed tilapia in Israel and Ecuador, which threatens the $7.5 billion global tilapia industry. A paper in the journal mBio describes tilapia lake virus (TiLV) and provides information needed to fight the outbreak.
Known in its native Middle East as St. Peter’s fish and thought to be the biblical fish that fed multitudes, tilapia provides inexpensive dietary protein. The world’s second most farmed fish, tilapia is also the basis of aquaculture employment in developing countries in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. (The United States is the leading tilapia importer globally.) Since 2009, Israel has seen precipitous declines in tilapia, with annual yields plummeting as much as 85 percent–highly unusual considering the fish is known to be relatively resistant to viral infections. Similar die-offs have been seen in Ecuador and Colombia.
The scientists used high-throughput sequencing to determine the genetic code of the virus from tissue taken from diseased fish in Israel and Ecuador. This process would normally be sufficient to identify the culprit, but in this case, the resulting DNA sequences didn’t match any known virus, with the exception of a small genetic segment, that only remotely resembled a virus associated with the reproduction of influenza C.
Undeterred, the researchers employed other tools from their scientific tackle box, providing ample evidence that the genetic material was the same as the implicated virus dubbed TiLV. They used mass spectroscopy to characterize the proteins in cells growing the virus, which matched those they expected to see based on the genetic sequence. By analyzing the structure of viral DNA, they went on to observe 10 gene clusters with complementary endpoints, suggesting a circular form associated with a common type of viral reproduction involving a protein called a polymerase.
Finally and conclusively, healthy fish were exposed to TiLV cultured in a laboratory, resulting in disease that matched with what was seen in those countries: in Israel, the fish had swollen brains; in Ecuador, liver disease. In the coming weeks, the researchers will publish on the link between the TiLV and an outbreak of disease among tilapia in Colombia.
“The TiLV sequence has only minimal similarity in a small region of its genome to other viruses; thus, the methods we typically use to identify and characterize viruses through sequencing alone were insufficient,” says first author Eran Bacharach, a molecular virologist at Tel Aviv University.
“It appears to be most closely related to a family of influenza viruses called orthomyxoviruses; however, we still don’t understand much about its biology,” adds Nischay Mishra, associate research scientist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia’s Mailman School.
Importantly, the findings provide the genomic and protein sequences necessary for TiLV detection, containment, and vaccine development.
“We are shifting our focus now to implementing diagnostic tests for containment of infection and to developing vaccines to prevent disease,” says Avi Eldar of the Kimron Veterinary Institute in Bet Dagan, Israel.
The team of 18 researchers represent five institutions in four countries: the Center for Infection and Immunity and the New York Genome Center in the U.S., Tel Aviv University and Kimron Veterinary Institute in Israel; the University of Edinburgh, Scotland; and St. George’s University, Grenada, West Indies.
“The New York Genome Center was excited to join in characterizing this novel virus and contribute to this important environmental and globally impactful research,” says Toby Bloom, the Center’s deputy scientific director.
“Gumshoe epidemiology, molecular gymnastics and classical microbiological methods were required to link this new virus to disease,” says Ian Lipkin, senior author, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School. “Resolution of this mystery was only possible through the concerted efforts of this talented group of international collaborators.”
While best known for identifying viruses behind human disease, the Center for Infection and Immunity, pinpointed the virus beyond a disease that decimated salmon farms in Europe in 2010. They have done similar work with seals, sea lions, and Great Apes.
The current research was supported by grants from the United States-Israel Bi-National Agricultural Research & Development Fund (BARD IS-4583-13), the Israel Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development Chief Scientist Office (847-0389-14), U.S. National Institutes for Health (AI109761), USAID PREDICT, and a fellowship to J.E.K.T. from the Manna Center Program in Food Safety and Security at Tel Aviv University. The authors declare no conflicts.
Tilapia has been identified as one of the most desired species for aquaculture farming throughout the Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture (CTSA) region. Although most farming technology is available, the development and expansion of tilapia farming still faces regional challenges. One of the highest priorities in recent years has been stock improvement, and much work has been done in that area. CTSA encourages studies to continue improving the productivity of tilapia farming, and has identified the following top priorities for FY2016:
1) Develop protocols to ensure the quality of the final products.
2) Improve regional access to disease-free tilapia with high-quality genetic traits.
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Paraiso Springs Aquaculture Guatemala is Latin America’s first company qualified to offer four-star Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) tilapia, the Global Aquaculture Alliance announced in early March.
The company became eligible to offer four-star BAP tilapia with the BAP certification of its hatchery. Its new processing plant and farm — located in Caserio Los Angeles, San Luis Peten, Guatemala — are already BAP certified, as are the feed mills from which it sources feed, Areca Feed Mill in Guatemala and Cargill de Honduras.
Four-star BAP status denotes that the product originates from a BAP-certified processing plant, farm, hatchery and feed mill. It’s the highest achievement in the BAP program.
“We are very proud of the hard work our crew put forth to obtain BAP four-star certification. It certainly is an accomplishment for a small family-run operation like Paraiso Springs. This is a big part of our quality commitment to our clients and community,” said Alejandro Palomo, president of Paraiso Springs Aquaculture Guatemala.
Currently, worldwide, there are 74 BAP-certified tilapia processing plants and 68 BAP-certified tilapia farms, representing more than 175,000 metric tons annually.
A division of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Best Aquaculture Practices is an international certification program based on achievable, science-based and continuously improved performance standards for the entire aquaculture supply chain — farms, hatcheries, processing plants and feed mills — that assure healthful foods produced through environmentally and socially responsible means. BAP certification is based on independent audits that evaluate compliance with the BAP standards developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.