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Catfish, Delacata? New Name, Same Old Problem

by Ellen Hardy
14 October 2008, at 1:00am

US - Roger Barlow, the president of the Catfish Institute in Mississippi has said that soon U.S. farm-raised catfish, will not be called catfish.

According to a report by Guido Mocafico for The New York Times, Mr Barlow said that the new name that has been chosen, and market-tested is Delacata.

Delacata, he told The New York Times, was going to be a specially filleted Grade-A piece of the best of the farmed North American channel catfish. It was being tested at high-end bistros in California, and the “Iron Chef America” judge Cat Cora had signed on to endorse it.

The rollout of Delacata should have been the 40-year-old catfish industry’s transcendental moment, marking catfish’s transformation from a poor subsistence food to America’s most commercially successful farmed fish, reports the news agency.

About a third of the region’s growers have quit, and those remaining increasingly see their ponds as liabilities. If attrition continues apace, very little catfish will be farmed in the United States before long.

"The ostensible reason for the industry’s collapse is last year’s doubling of feed and fuel prices. But as one farmer put it, the cost increases are just the “knockout punch.” Why North American catfish hit the ropes in the first place and why some catfish might not be called catfish anymore cut to the heart of the American food system’s viability", wrote Guido Mocafico.

"For Delacata is not just about getting a higher price to compensate for higher costs; it is about America’s ability to protect its food production and regulation from an emergent Asia."

Ellen Hardy