Future Trends of Tilapia Aquaculture in the Americas
Table 3. Typical prices for tilapia products sold in the US as of September 1999 (from personal communications and advertisements).
Whole live fish Whole frozen fish Whole fresh fish Fillets, fresh Fillets, frozen
approved by the government in 1992. Most produc- tion has developed in the states of Tachira, Barinas, and around Lago de Maracibo. There were 152 farms licensed to produce tilapia in 1997, with 133 ha in production, 95% in semi-intensive pond production, 5% in intensive concrete tank culture (G. Conroy, pers. comm.). Red tilapia, introduced from the US, Jamaica and Israel (Polanco 1998) and O. niloticus are most commonly reared. Many tilapia farms are integrated into existing small farm operations with one or 2 small ponds while others are integrated into larger ranching operations with multiple ponds and more sophisticated operations. Some of these farms have further diversified to also produce “cachama” (Colossoma macropomum) (M. Martinez, pers. comm.). Most of the tilapia produced are consumed in Venezuela and sold in the round, or gutted on ice. Tilapia are exported to Colombia, France, and the US, and require additional processing. Additional produc- tion is planned, and will be aimed at US markets. Servicio Autonomo de los Recursos Pesqueros y Acuicolas (SARPA) of the Ministry of Agriculture is the agency that regulates and supports aquaculture development. SARPA has restrictions on introduction of tilapia to natural bodies of water, but expects tila- pia production in private production facilities to con- tinue to increase rapidly into the next decade (Capecchi 1997).
# of Farms
Red strains, O. niloticus
duction. Polyculture with cachama will be adopted on many farms.
The countries of the Americas are relatively small markets and producers compared to China and other Asian countries. However, the US is a rapidly growing market that has encouraged tilapia farms to develop throughout the Americas. In 1986, es- sentially all US demand was met by domestic pro- ducers. By 1998, a vastly increased US market was comprised of 80% imports. In 1998 the US imported 43,000 t of LWE tilapia compared to 8,200 t of do- mestic production (American Tilapia Association 1999). Prices for tilapia products vary considerably across the US. Live fish sold by the producer will range from $2.20–$6.60/kg at the farm. Prices for processed forms vary considerably.
Growth of domestic markets in South and Cen- tral America has further supported demand. In some countries domestic demand has absorbed local pro- duction and exports to the US have declined. This diversification is beneficial to the producers since the local markets reduce shipping and processing costs. Producers can also take advantage of seasonal peaks in US demand (Lent and summer). Mexico and Brazil in particular have strong domestic mar- kets. These 2 countries with large populations and enormous aquatic resources will be the 2 major play- ers in the Western Hemisphere tilapia industry. Ti- lapia markets throughout the Americas will diversify as more value-added products are offered. Breaded, marinated, and microwave ready tilapia will be pro- cessed and marketed throughout the region.
Production will increase steadily. Jory et al. (1999) report that there may be 200 farms in opera- tion. Domestic demand will increase slightly, but new production will be directed to US fillet markets (Alceste and Jory 1998). Improvements in fry avail- ability and feed quality should further boost pro-
US producers are increasingly dependent on recirculating systems, even in areas with access to warm water supplies. Concerns over effluent dis- charges are helping to drive this trend. Hatcheries in Central and South American countries are also