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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
Qingdao, 3 November 2015 – Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co Ltd have become the first Chinese farms to achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification. This landmark achievement reflects the pioneering initiative and efforts of a few farms in the industry to tackle some of the major challenges facing tilapia farming in China.
The success of the farms and their respective processers Hainan Xiangtai Fisheries Co., Ltd and Hainan Sky-Blue Ocean Foods Co., Ltd was celebrated today during the Sustainable Seafood Forum in Qingdao. The formal handover of the certificates was conducted by the independent certification body that assessed the farms against the ASC standard, Intertek. The ceremony was attended by government officials, seafood industry representatives, NGOs and the media.
Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd are the first among a number of farms that undertook pre-assessments with help from WWF China to see if they operated in a way that meets the ASC Tilapia Standard. A third tilapia farm, Wenchang Zhou Qinfu, has been assessed against the ASC standard and hopes to be certified soon.
Achieving ASC certification brings global recognition that Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd are operating in a responsible way. It marks the start of their contribution towards a global market for responsibly produced seafood.
Mr Yang Huaying, Deputy Executive Director Hainan Sky-Blue Ocean Foods Co. Ltd said: “We are pleased that Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest has passed the assessment against the ASC Tilapia Standard. ASC certification allows us to prove to our customers that we are committed to responsible aquaculture.”
Mr Liu Rongjie, President Xiangtai Fisheries Co. Ltd, said: “For us it is important be able to show through a third party that our ambitions towards responsible tilapia farming have been achieved. The ASC certification of Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd helps us communicate this to our stakeholders.”
Making progress towards a more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tilapia sector in the Chinese aquaculture industry has been achieved through a partnership between ASC, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA) and WWF China. As a result the industry has begun to make real strides in improving the transparency of Chinese tilapia aquaculture.
Dr Cui He, Executive Vice President, CAPPMA, said: “I would like to congratulate the Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd for becoming the first tilapia farms in China to meet the rigorous requirements of the ASC Tilapia Standard. CAPPMA has been diligently working with ASC and WWF China to promote responsible aquaculture in China. This is a major step towards responsible aquaculture in this important market.”
Credible and independent farm certification
ASC does not audit or certify farms itself; this is done by independent certifiers. The certifiers have to undergo a rigorous process of accreditation by a company that is independent of ASC, Accreditation Services International (ASI). ASI also monitors the performance of accredited certifiers. Before certifiers can formally undertake audits their staff must have participated in an ASC Auditor Training course and passed the mandatory exam to demonstrate their full understanding of and competence in the application of the standard.
Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO, said: “These certifications reflect the substantial efforts of the farms to make real improvements in their operations. The farms were subject to scrutiny by a team of independent experts, which assessed them against the strict requirements of the ASC Tilapia Standard. This is a major milestone and they should be immensely proud of their achievements.”Throughout the assessment process stakeholders had the opportunity to input into the farm audits, with their views actively sought. This is a unique feature of the ASC programme.
The ASC Tilapia Standard development
Jin Zhonghao, Director of Market Transformation, WWF China, said: “The ASC standard for tilapia aquaculture was created by a series of open roundtable discussions coordinated by the WWF. The multi-stakeholder initiative involved more than 200 tilapia farming experts including producers, conservationists and scientists. The resulting standard is incredibly robust, built on scientific knowledge and practices aimed at addressing the key negative environmental and social impacts of the industry.”
By meeting the ASC Tilapia Standard the Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest Tilapia Farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd have demonstrated that they are well managed and minimise any adverse environmental or social impacts by, for example, focusing on the conservation and quality of water resources, no misuse of antibiotics, minimising escapes, compliance with strict feed requirements and meeting a range of social requirements.
Contact: Sun Brage
Aquaculture Stewardship Council
T: +31 (0)30 230 56 92
Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC): www.asc-aqua.org
China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA): www.cappma.org
World Wide Fund for Nature-China (WWF-China): www.wwfchina.org
Hot on the heels of the launch of the floating raft cage culture system in November and an awareness building event for locally produced tilapia targeted at restaurants and supermarkets two weeks ago, last week, Devant Maharaj, the Minister of Food Production in Trinidad unveiled three other initiatives.
In his unprecedented and unrelenting efforts to support the long neglected Aquaculture Sector, Minister Maharaj commissioned a refurbished facility originally established in the 1950’s and re-branding it as the Aquaculture Demonstration Centre.
At the same event, there was also the signing of a MoU among several of his Ministry agencies and the predominant farmers group for the purchase of farmed tilapia, processing of the fish and subsequent sale of the product under a newly created TT Tilapia brand. These are all bold and never before seen initiatives in the aquaculture industry anywhere in the world and many countries would do well to pay attention to this model for aquaculture support and development.
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Tilapia is one of the most widely produced food fishes. Tilapia is farmed or harvested from wild populations in over 75 countries. This fish group has been widely recognized as an important food source in Asia and Africa for over 50 years, where until recently most of it was consumed locally. However, in the last two decades, there has been greater consumer acceptance of tilapia in North America and Europe and tilapia is now an important food source in these regions. Much of the tilapia consumed in North America and Europe is imported from Asia, the Middle East, and South America.
Tilapia is second to carp as the most popularly farmed fish. In 1994 worldwide production of farmed tilapia was 500,000 metric tons. By 2002 over 1.5 million metric tons of tilapia were produced. Production accelerated to almost 3.5 million metric tons by 2010.
China is the largest producer of tilapia farming 1,331,890 metric tons in 2010. This is over twice as much as Egypt (557,049 mt) and Indonesia (458,752 mt). As the chart shows, the majority of tilapia production takes place in Asia (China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Taiwan), the Middle East (Egypt) and South America (Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador). By comparison, very little tilapia is produced in North America and the United States production was 9,979 mt in 2010.
Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons, a professor at the University of Arizona an noted tilapia expert, predicts that tilapia will surpass carp and become the most important aquaculture fish in the 21st century. Tilapia has a number of unique characteristics which favor its rise in popularity as an aquaculture species. These characteristics include high growth rate, ability to subsist on natural food sources, reproductive capability, and ability to tolerate a range of environments. Ongoing breeding programs now produce tilapia with faster growth rates and better fillet yield. Tilapia can be grown in high density and in polyculture systems with shrimp and other fish.
Comparison of Major Farmed Fishes
Tilapia production values based on data sourced from the FishStat database