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Catfish Processing Up 21 Percent from Last Year

US - Farm-raised catfish processed during June 2008 totaled 45.2 million pounds round weight, up 21 percent fromJune 2007. The average price paid to producers was 79.3 cents per pound for June 2008, up 1.9 cents from lastmonth but 2.4 cents below a year ago.

Net pounds of processed fish sold during June 2008 totaled 22.4 million pounds, up 15 percent from the comparable month in 2007. The total end of the month inventory increased 7 percent from last month but was down 17 percent from a year ago. Sales of fresh fish, at 8.44 million pounds, were up 19 percent from June 2007 and represented 38 percent of total sales. Frozen fish sales, at 14.0 million pounds, were up 13 percent from a year ago and accounted for the remaining 62 percent of total fish sales. Sales of whole fish represented 18 percent of the total fish sold, fillets accounted for 61 percent, and the remaining 21 percent were mostly steaks, nuggets, and value added products.

The June 2008 average price received by processors for total fresh fish was $2.48 per pound, down 4 cents from last year. Prices for fresh whole fish were $1.65 per pound, down 6 cents from June 2007. Prices for fresh fillets were down 19 cents from a year ago at $3.07 per pound. Total frozen fish averaged $2.46 per pound, down 6 cents from June 2007. Prices for frozen whole dressed fish were down 5 cents at $2.15 and frozen fillets at $2.92 per pound were down 6 cents from a year ago.

Freshwater imports for consumption of Ictalurus spp., Pangasius spp., and other catfish of the order Siluriformes for May 2008 totaled 10.2 million pounds, up 87 percent from the amount imported in May 2007. Imports were from Cambodia, Chile, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam. The Ictalurus spp. imports totaled 2.86 million pounds, which were from China and Trinidad and Tobago.

Fresh boneless catfish fillet exports totaled 57.0 thousand pounds, with 49.5 thousand pounds going to Canada and the rest going to the Netherlands. No exports of frozen, boneless catfish fillets were reported for May 2008.

Import and export data are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

US Catfish Processed

US Average Grower Price

Reliability of Catfish Processing Estimates

Survey Procedures: Survey data for catfish processing are collected from approximately 20 processors. All participating processors must meet the minimum criteria of having a capacity to process at least 2,000 pounds live weight of catfish per 8-hour shift. The survey is conducted entirely by NASS Headquarters staff in Washington, D.C. However, NASS field offices are responsible for informing Headquarters staff of any new processing operations in their state to ensure complete survey coverage. Processors are contacted either by mail, telephone, fax or internet. Diligent effort is made to ensure that all operations are accounted for in the estimate.

Estimation Procedures: The "Catfish Processing" report refers strictly to farm-raised fish and excludes wild capture fish. Prior to summarization, questionnaires are compared with the previous month's reports for comparable placement of data, reasonable price levels, and a reasonable inventory carryover given the sales and processing totals reported. Estimates are made for those processors whose reports are not available in time to be included in the release. These plants are identified by an asterisk on page 6 of this release. Estimates are normally based on the processor's previous report and current conditions. Published totals are a straight summation of the individual reports and estimated data. Price items are weighted by the associated volumes to compute weighted average prices. The published price for total whole fish, however, reflects an adjustment to the round and gutted only price to bring it to an equivalent dressed weight price.

If a plant uses a fiscal accounting system, prorating is used to convert reported data to a calendar month basis. Only national level estimates are published due to the limited number of plants involved.

One unique feature of the "Catfish Processing" report is the listing of cooperating processors by name on each month's release. This feature originally was used to solicit industry cooperation in maintaining coverage, but it has continued because of the processors' overall acceptance of this policy.

Import and export data for catfish, which are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, are also included in this report.

Revision Policy: Revisions may be necessary in the previous month’s publication based on late reports received from plants. These revisions are made to improve month to month relationships. In February, all monthly estimates for the previous year are reviewed and subject to revision. This review is primarily based on data that may have been received after the original estimates were published.

Reliability: Estimates are based on a census of all known active processors and, therefore, have no sampling variability. However, estimates may be subject to errors such as omissions, duplication, and mistakes in reporting, recording, and processing of the data. These errors are minimized through strict quality controls in the edit and summarization process, and a careful review of all reported data for consistency and reasonableness.