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Farmed catfish production falls as imports grow

US - Catfish processing is down 9 per cent, reports the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Farm-raised catfish processed during May 2007 totaled 38.9 million pounds round weight, down 9 percent from May 2006. This total is the lowest reported May round weight processed since May 1995 when 37.0 million pounds were processed. The average price paid to producers was 84.1 cents per pound for May 2007, unchanged from last month and 4.5 cents above a year ago.

Net pounds of processed fish sold during May 2007 totaled 21.9 million pounds, down 5 percent from the comparable month in 2006. The total end of the month inventory decreased 15 percent from last month, but was up significantly from a year ago. Sales of fresh fish, at 7.79 million pounds, were down 7 percent from May 2006 and represented 35 percent of total sales. Frozen fish sales, at 14.2 million pounds, were down 4 percent from a year ago and accounted for the remaining 65 percent of total fish sales. Sales of whole fish represented 17 percent of the total fish sold, fillets accounted for 61 percent, and the remaining 22 percent were mostly steaks, nuggets, and value added products.

Fresh water prices up
The May 2007 average price received by processors for total fresh fish was $2.61 per pound, up 14 cents from last year. Prices for fresh whole fish were $1.81 per pound, up 11 cents from May 2006. Prices for fresh fillets were up 20 cents at $3.28 per pound. Total frozen fish averaged $2.51 per pound, unchanged from May 2006. Prices for frozen whole dressed fish were up 11 cents at $2.26 and frozen fillets at $2.99 per pound were up 7 cents from a year ago.

Freshwater imports of Ictalurus spp., Pangasius spp., and other catfish of the order Siluriformes for April 2007 totaled 5.10 million pounds, up 63 percent from the amount imported in April 2006. Imports were from Brazil, China, Indonesia, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Ictalurus spp. imports totaled 1.14 million pounds, which were from Brazil and China.

Fresh boneless catfish fillet exports totaled 73.5 thousand pounds, with all going to Canada. No exports of frozen, boneless catfish fillets were reported for April 2007.

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

To view the full report, including tables, please click here