China tilapia price increases likely as cold weather kills fish : February 15, 2016
Ola Wietecha : Undercurrentnews
Extremely low temperatures in China this year have been killing off large numbers of tilapia, several sources told Undercurrent News.
Mean temperatures, which were hovering in the mid-50s (fahrenheit) in early January, fell to 38 degrees by the end of the month.
“There is little doubt that there are cold weather related tilapia mortalities in China, with some areas affected more than others,” Don Kelley, of US importing company Western Edge Seafood, told Undercurrent News.
A price increase after Chinese New Year, which started on Feb. 8 and runs for around a week, is expected, according to several sources.
Packers from several Chinese regions have been vocal about the low supply of fish, due to the weather.
According to reports from packers in Guangxi, in late January a “great amount of fish are dead in [the] area due to the extremely cold weather. Supply [is] very tight these days.”
Another packer in the same region said his company can only run 20% of production capacity.
A packer from the Guangdong province said that he estimated a third of the fish have died in west and east Guangdong, “especially the small fish”.
Another Guangdong packer said his company is now buying 30,000 Jin (1 Jin = 500 grams) per day, whereas normally it would be buying 150,000 Jin per day.
Kelley said that it is hard to know how many fish have died, as there haven’t been any official reports regarding the losses of tilapia specifically.
“With the Chinese New year’s season ongoing and its related travel activities, it has not been easy to gather information as to the extent of the losses,” he said.
It is hard to know how many fish have died, as there haven’t been any official reports regarding the losses of tilapia specifically, Landy Chow, of the Chinese office of Bangkok, Thailand-based supplier Siam Canadian Group, told Undercurrent.
“A newspaper said the total losses in [the] southern part of China is about CNY 1 billion ($150m) for shrimp, golden pompano, tilapia as well as other raised fish,” he said.
Jason Carter of Elite Seafood, a tilapia farmer and processor in China, said his company had to finish production two days earlier than they had planned because there was no raw material left to buy.
“This wasn’t a price issue, there simply wasn’t any fish,” he said.
Despite the loses, Carter said the situation could have been much worse.
“There are some mortalities but, because most of the fish on the mainland had already been harvested, this was not as bad as it could have been,” he said.
Prices expected to increase
Several sources told Undercurrent that they expect the price of tilapia to increase after the Chinese New year holiday.
“I believe prices will go up after the [holiday] but a lot is going to depend on demand,” Carter said. “I am expecting the supply on the mainland to be very limited after Chinese New Year.”
Chow also said he expects prices to increase after the holiday as high as a dollar above the RMB 8.00/kg reported at the end of January.
“The raw material price for tilapia will go up after Chinese New Year, some people said that the price might go up to RMB 9.00/KG. but the demand after Chinese New year is not strong, so the price will go up but it is not easy to predict how much the increase is.”
From mid-October to early January, tilapia prices fell steadily, according to information on the Undercurrent prices portal.
Prices fell from RMB 8.50/kg on Oct. 20 to RMB 7.80/kg on Jan. 10, but began to rise again in late January to RMB 8.00/kg.