China tilapia sales to US on track to hit second highest level in decade : September 9, 2015
Ola Wietecha – UNDERCURRENT NEWS
China tilapia sales to the US are on target to reach the second highest volume in the last decade, according to the latest figures released by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
According to the most recent NMFS statistics through July 2015, China held 73.8% of US market share for the first seven months of the year, with imports at 95,272t metric tons.
Both China’s exports to the US in raw numbers, as well as its overall share of US tilapia imports, have steadily climbed most years since 2005, aside from a minor drop in 2008 and a larger drop in 2011.
In 2012, US imports of Chinese tilapia hit a record level of 97,827t in the first seven months of each year, finishing the year at 173,398t, also an all-time high.
Then, in the first seven months of 2013, Chinese tilapia sales to the US experienced the most severe decline in the last decade, falling to 82,124t, a 16.1% decrease year-on-year, and its market share dropping from nearly 75% down to 70%. At the end of 2013, US imports were 168,283t.
In 2014, imports for the first seven months were 89,869t, hitting 172,566t by the year end, just behind 2012.
The continuing market share growth of China’s processors comes at a time when other frozen tilapia exporters are experiencing a drop in sales. For the first seven months of this year, Taiwan’s sales volume dropped by 11.3% y-o-y from 7,962t, Indonesia’s dropped by 11.3% from 6,356t, and Thailand’s sales dropped by 16.1% from 1,183t, to name a few.
Despite the rise in volume, however, the overall value of Chinese tilapia imports decreased by 9.5% y-o-y in the first seven months of 2015, down to $382 million, demonstrating a drastic drop in prices.
This is a continuing trend that Undercurrent News reported on in July, due to high inventory and slow demand in China’s top three markets: the US, Mexico, and Russia.
In August, Undercurrent reported that this trend was reversing, however, with prices climbing back up in China. This is likely to translate into US wholesale prices in the near future, sources said.
The chart below shows the increase in ex-farm prices that started in June, with prices climbing from a low of CNY 7 per kilo for 800-gram live tilapia in June to CNY 8 by August. That is still significantly below last year’s levels, however, when they were at around CNY 9.45 – CNY 9.9 over the same period.