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Tilapia Marketing in the Americas. Kevin Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. Professor - University of Arizona Sec. / Tres. - American Tilapia Association President - US. Aquaculture Soc. Chapter of WAS August 2001. Tilapia introductions to the Americas.

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Tilapia Marketing in the Americas

Kevin Fitzsimmons, Ph.D.

Professor - University of ArizonaSec. / Tres. - American Tilapia Association

President - US. Aquaculture Soc. Chapter of WAS

August 2001


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Tilapia introductions to the Americas

  • Oreochromis mossambicus first in the Caribbean in 1949 by C.F. Hickling

  • To United States in 1954

  • Oreochromis aureus introduced in 1957

  • Throughout the Americas by 1970

  • Oreochromis niloticus into Brazil 1971

  • Red strains developed in 1970’s and 80’s

  • Oreochromis niloticus spreads in 1990’s

  • Total production of 257,000 mt in 2000


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Production widely distributed around the Americas.

  • Tilapia introduced to every country

  • Tilapia, mojarra, St. Peters fish, Jamaican freshwater snapper, Cherry Snapper

  • Used in hundreds of recipes

  • Live, Whole, fillets, fresh and frozen, smoked


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Supply and Demand

  • Supply primarily from tropical countries

  • Demand is in producer countries and US

  • With rapid increases in supply, demand must increase at least as fast to support price.


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Major Tilapia Producers in the Americas (for year 2000)

  • Mexico - 102,000 metric tons/year

  • Brazil - 45,000 mt / year

  • Cuba - 39,000 mt / year

  • Colombia - 23,000 mt / year

  • Ecuador - 15,000 mt / year

  • Costa Rica - 10,000 mt / year

  • USA - 9,072 mt / year

  • Honduras - 5,000 mt / year



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Major Tilapia Products in International Trade

  • Costa Rica - fresh fillets

  • Ecuador - fresh and frozen fillets

  • Honduras and Jamaica - fresh and frozen fillets

  • Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba USA - strong domestic demands, minimal exports


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Estimated cost of production

  • Brazil, Ecuador, Cuba - $1.10 / kg

  • Costa Rica, Jamaica - $1.20 / kg

  • Colombia, Mexico - $1.25 / kg

  • USA - $2.00 / kg

  • Canada - $2.10 / kg


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International markets

  • Costa Rica was first major exporter

  • Ecuador is now major exporter from the Americas

  • Honduras has rapid expansion

  • Colombia, Cuba, Brazil and Mexico are supplying strong domestic markets

  • Prices on international markets will not increase from present levels.


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International markets

  • Ecuador has passed Costa Rica as supplier of fillets to US

  • Ecuador integrating with shrimp production

  • Colombia and Mexico were exporters to US, but exports levels decreased while production increased


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Tilapia production and Markets in Mexico

  • Production in most states of Mexico

  • Intensive in north, lake ranching in south

  • Strong domestic markets; on ice, fillets in grocery stores

  • Will eventually develop export markets.


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Tilapia production & Markets in Brasil

  • Production in Southeast and Northeast

  • Red tilapia in Southeast for fee-fishing and food

  • Cage farms allowed in NE reservoirs.

  • Tilapia leather industry

  • Jump in interest with ISTA 5 in Rio.

  • Will eventually develop export markets.


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Tilapia in Colombia

  • Before 1980, Colombia had strong domestic market

  • Developed export trade to US

  • Domestic market has grown so strong that exports were suspended

  • Colombia imports tilapia from Venezuela and Ecuador



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Tilapia production in Ecuador

  • Replacing shrimp because of white spot disease

  • Using shrimp infrastructure

  • Exporting to US and EU

  • Will they revert to shrimp if disease is controlled?








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International market changes

  • Increasing domestic consumption in producing countries especially Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica

  • Colombia starting to export again, Mexico and Brazil will follow


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Current International Market Trends

  • Increase in demand for all forms of tilapia

  • Demand increase will be greatest for fresh fillets

  • Prices have been constant for several years and will remain stable, will not increase with inflation.


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Current International Market Trends

  • US and EU growers will concentrate on live sales and highly processed forms

  • Latin America and Southeast Asia will be primary US suppliers

  • Latin America, Caribbean and Africa will supply EU


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Marketing - Push vs. Pull

  • Push = get distributors to take more product

  • Pull = get consumers to demand more product

  • Push = often more expenses with product, prices and profits lower

  • Pull = advertising, higher prices and profits


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Marketing - Push

  • Lower prices

  • Advertise in business magazines

  • Add value to product -processing

  • Better bulk packaging

  • Other sales incentives


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Marketing - Pull

  • Advertise to consumer

  • Advertise in general interest magazines

  • Product placement - movies, TV, books

  • Value adding to product

  • Better retail packaging

  • Point of sale recipe cards & promotions

  • Testimonials





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  • Dear Kevin,

  • I recently began using Tilapia fillets farm raised by Sea Best and distributed by Beaver Street Fisheries, Inc. I buy these in individual vacuum sealed packages in one pound bags at Wal-Mart in San Marcos, Texas. My husband has diabetes and we both are very weight conscious. This fish is the perfect food item for us, I love the way it is packaged, just use what I need for one meal, it is reasonably priced, always available in the market and consistently high quality. I trust you will forward these comments to the producer.

  • I LOVE THE PRODUCT!!!!

  • Marian Birnie Aug. 12, 2001



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New product forms -Push and Pull

Smoked tilapia

Sashimi grade tilapia


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Changes and Predictions

  • Further intensification in virtually every country

  • Production will be 75% Oreochromis niloticus, 20% Red strains, O. aureus and O. mossambicus mostly for hybridization

  • Production will be 50% intensive ponds, 25% cages, 10% intensive recirculating systems


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Changes and Predictions

  • Further intensification in virtually every country

  • Production will be 75% Oreochromis niloticus, 20% Red strains, O. aureus and O. mossambicus mostly for hybridization

  • Production will be 50% intensive ponds, 25% cages, 10% intensive recirculating systems


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Changes and Predictions

  • Further intensification in virtually every country

  • Production will be 75% Oreochromis niloticus, 20% Red strains, O. aureus and O. mossambicus mostly for hybridization

  • Production will be 50% intensive ponds, 25% cages, 10% intensive recirculating systems


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Changes and Predictions

  • Leather goods from skin will become a significant contributor to profitability

  • Processing and "value-adding" will intensify in producing countries

  • Polyculture with shrimp will become common in most shrimp farming areas


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Changes and Predictions

  • Processing and "value-adding" will intensify in producing countries


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Changes and Predictions

  • US production will increase slowly, intensifying current production methods

  • Production in the Americas will reach 500,000 mt by 2010 and 1,000,000 mt by 2020


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Marketing tilapia

  • Increasing demand / markets should begin in producing country

  • Opening new markets will be required in US

  • Plenty of techniques can be used to build markets

  • Many are free or low cost (placement, samples, live tanks, Web sites)

  • Most effective forms require investment


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