Strong domestic economic growth in 2006 is expected to improve restaurant sales, which are a chief outlet for seafood sales. A relatively weak dollar is expected to make imports of many seafood products relatively more expensive. As demand for poultry products lessens in many parts of the world, demand for alternate protein products may place some upward pressure on seafood prices. Relatively strong farm-level prices for a number of aquaculture products in 2005 are expected to provide an incentive to increase production. Partially offsetting positive market factors this year are expectations of price competition from the U.S. livestock/poultry sector, especially the broiler industry.
Aquaculture Production Expected Higher in 2006
The overall picture for the domestic aquaculture and seafood industry in 2006 is based on a number of factors. First, strong domestic economic growth in 2006 is expected to improve restaurant sales, which are a chief outlet for seafood sales. Second, a relatively weak dollar is expected to make imports of many seafood products relatively more expensive. Third, as demand for poultry products lessens in many parts of the world, demand for alternate protein products may increase competition for imports and place some upward pressure on seafood prices. Fourth, relatively strong farm-level prices for a number of aquaculture products in 2005 are expected to provide an incentive to increase production. Partially offsetting these positive factors is expected strong price competition from U.S. livestock, especially the broiler industry.
Catfish Sales Expected Higher in 2006
Catfish sales by farmers to processors are expected to increase slightly in 2006 to
between 615 million and 620 million pounds, based on grower inventory estimates
at the start of 2006. Grower sales are expected to be slightly lower during the first
part of 2006, with stronger growth in the second half.
Grower sales in 2005 were down 5 percent; however, higher farm-level prices
partially offset the decline in sales. After rising 20 percent in 2004, average farm
prices increased 4 percent to 72.3 cents per pound. Processor sales in 2005 fell by
slightly over 2 percent to about 300 million pounds and, like farm sales, were
partially offset by higher average prices. With a 2-percent decrease in sales volume
and a 2-percent increase in average price, gross processor revenues from catfish
sales in 2005 totaled $686 million, unchanged from 2004. In 2006, with an
expected small sales increase and lower prices, total gross processor revenues are
expected to remain close to the 2005 level.
Catfish inventories at the start of 2006 showed fingerlings and stockers numbers up sharply from 2005, but the overall inventory level of food-size fish was lower than at the start of 2005. The higher inventory for fingerlings and stockers could put downward pressure on farm prices toward the end of the year. With lower grower and processor inventories at the start of the year, farm supplies of catfish would be expected to be tighter than in the previous year. Added to this are relatively low feed costs, which will help to hold down production costs. Also, the forecast for domestic economic growth is relatively strong, which should in turn boost sales at restaurants. Offsetting these factors are expected high levels of catfish imports and low prices for broiler products.
Trout Production Higher in 2005
In 2005, total trout sales (food-size fish, stockers, fingerlings, and eggs) totaled
$74.2 million, up 4 percent from a year earlier. The estimated value of the trout
distributed for recreational and conservation purposes was $74.3 million in 2005, an
increase of almost $12 million from the previous year.
Trout producers are expected to benefit in 2006 from continued relatively strong prices for catfish. Since a large portion of trout sales are through restaurants, a strong domestic economy is expected to help sales. Water issues will continue to be a concern for many trout farmers, especially those in Western areas that have had low rainfall or drought conditions during the past several years.
Tilapia Imports Rise by 19 Percent in 2005
U.S. tilapia imports surged to over 297 million pounds in 2005, up 19 percent from
2004. Tilapia is a light-colored mild fish that is most often sold as a filleted product
in grocery stores and restaurants. The live market for tilapia, which is supplied by
domestic producers, consists mostly of ethnic restaurants or restaurants that
specialize in seafood.
In 2006, tilapia imports are expected to benefit from increased demand from the foodservice and restaurant markets. The growth in tilapia imports is expected to be tempered by low prices for U.S. poultry products. Total tilapia imports in 2006 are expected to reach between 315 million and 325 million pounds. The average import price is not expected to grow as strongly in 2006, as strong competition among producers and from substitute products is expected to mostly offset the movement to higher average prices resulting from increasing imports of filleted products.
Atlantic Salmon Imports Top $1 Billion
U.S. imports of Atlantic salmon were just over $1 billion in 2005, up 16.4 percent from 2004. On a quantity basis, imports totaled 423 million pounds in 2005, a 7.3- percent increase from 2004. Shipments in 2006 are expected to be near the 440- million-pound level and value is expected to be between $1 and 1.1 billion. Higher demand for salmon products due to health and dietary factors is expected to be offset by strong competition from other protein sources and strong demand in Europe. The discovery of Avian Flu in Europe is expected to increase the demand for salmon products as consumers in the wealthier European countries reduce their poultry consumption and turn to alternative products.
Shrimp Imports: Volume Higher, Value Falls
In 2005, total shrimp imports were 1.2 billion pounds, up 2 percent from 2004.
However, even with the increase in volume, the value of imported shrimp products
declined 1 percent as average prices fell. For the last 5 consecutive years the
average price for imported shrimp products has declined, falling from $4.94 per
pound in 2000 to $3.12 per pound in 2005.
In 2006, the quantity of shrimp imports is expected to increase marginally. Average shrimp prices are expected to rise due to rapid growth in Asian countries and strong demand in Europe. Fresh shrimp Imports are expected to grow as the Gulf fishing industry, the largest source of domestic shrimp, rebuilds from hurricane damage.
The value of oyster, mussel, and clam imports all rose in 2005. Over the last
decade, mussel imports have been growing almost steadily. Mussel imports have
risen chiefly due to greater use in the foodservice industry. Oyster imports have
increased steadily over the last several years, due partially to declines in the
domestic harvest of oysters. Oyster imports are expected to expand in 2006 due to
expected weak harvests in the Chesapeake Bay and hurricane damage to the Gulf
The export quantity and value were higher for oyster and mussel shipments in 2005, but the volume and value of clam exports declined. Over the last several years, shipments of oysters have more than doubled in terms of value and quantity, primarily due to strong growth in shipments to Asia. Expected strong growth in Asian economies in 2006 is expected to lead to further growth in oyster exports.
LinksFor more information view the full Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook - March 2006 (pdf)
Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook - U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service - March 2006