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Inventory of Tilapia Export Pain Points: High Inventory in the United States

According to the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) report, tilapia will be the fourth most consumed seafood in the United States in 2021, after shrimp, salmon and canned tuna. The average annual consumption of Americans will reach 1.04 pounds.

However, starting from the second quarter of 2022, for a certain period of time, the import volume of pangasius in the United States surpassed that of tilapia. In addition to bearing the pressure of high inflation and low demand from Europe and the United States, China's tilapia export industry also has to compete directly with Vietnamese pangasius products. The severity of the trade situation is self-evident.

On June 28, the 18th Tilapia Industry Development Forum was held in Guangzhou. When it comes to import and export trade, Chinese and foreign speakers all mentioned the problem of "high inventory" in the US market.

Wang Xueguang, executive secretary-general of the China Aquatic Products Circulation and Processing Association (CAPPMA), mentioned: "my country's tilapia exports have declined since last year, and some have dropped by as much as 40-50%. So far, foreign trade orders are still not ideal."

"In February, we conducted research in Hainan. At that time, the price of raw materials was 4.3-4.5 yuan per catty. Everyone still had hope for the future. But when we went to Zhanjiang last month, the situation was still very serious, and the price was even as low as 3.5 yuan. / Jin.” Wang Xueguang pointed out that in the past ten years, the proportion of the US market in China’s exports has dropped from 40-50% to 26%, indicating that the proportion of other countries is increasing, the market is more diversified, and the ability to eliminate risks is increasing.

"It is worth noting that after March 2022, the number of pangasius imported by the United States will exceed that of Chinese tilapia. This seems to be related to the severe inflation in the United States. The lower the price, the more opportunities to occupy more markets." Wang Xueguang said.

Richard Barry, project manager of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), said: "In this year's import procurement cycle, we generally see that the stock of tilapia and the entire seafood market is at a very high level, and the inventory problem is penetrating into all parts of the supply chain. direction."

"Before and after the epidemic, many changes have taken place in the purchasing behavior of the United States. Earlier, American importers tried to purchase as much as possible to create spare stocks and hoard products for 15-20 weeks. Now the situation has changed. Before the stocks are digested, imports Merchants are not going to make large-scale purchases," Barry said.

“It is also because of this dynamic change that we are seeing an interesting relationship between tilapia and pangasius fillet products. Pangasius has a relatively low price in the market, and it is now declining faster than tilapia. Faster." Barry pointed out that tilapia products are based on the US retail market, while pangasius is mainly distributed in catering channels.

“In the retail segment, tilapia is also facing competition from pangasius. Due to the economic downturn, retailers are keen to provide consumers with affordable and diverse product options. However, tilapia remains very strong in terms of retail sales , and continued to perform well during the recession.” Barry said, “During the epidemic, Americans saved a sum of money by receiving additional government subsidies. Now that the money has been used up, they are looking for more affordable Commodity. Tilapia needs to continue to remain value-competitive compared to other meat proteins.”

Dr. Steven Hart, Vice President of the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA), said: "In 2015, imports of frozen tilapia fillets in the United States reached a historical peak and have since declined, while pangasius sales have risen rapidly during the epidemic. Interestingly, frozen pangasius last year Fish fillets outsell tilapia fillets.”

“However, we see a sharp drop in pangasius sales of over 50% in the first few months of 2023. Market conditions for tilapia fillets are relatively positive, slightly above pre-pandemic levels, but still below 2015 highs Hart said, one thing to note is that, except for chilled fish fillets, imports of other tilapia product forms have declined from January to May, with an average decline of about 12.5%, of which frozen fish fillets (mainly from China) decreased by 11% year-on-year.

"According to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) survey, so far this year, the total spending of American consumers on seafood has decreased by 4%, but it is still higher than the level before the epidemic. When consumers make choices in stores, most of them would choose other meat proteins instead of seafood, and only 25% of consumers said they would give preference to seafood," Hart said.

Hart added that since the outbreak, American consumers have become more and more sensitive to seafood prices. In 2021, 59% of consumers often or occasionally buy seafood, and by 2022, this proportion will drop to 53%. On the positive side, tilapia has become a well-known product in the minds of American consumers. 84% of American consumers know about this fish. 13% down to 7.4% currently.


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