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The latest figures released by the US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service show statistics on domestically grown catfish and US imports of salmon, tilapia and shrimp. Summarised by TheFishSite junior editor, Charlotte Johnston.

Catfish: Grower and processor sales and prices

Figures show that catfish sold to processors has fallen 19 per cent from 2004 to 2008, suggesting that the number of catfish produced is decreasing or that growers are selling elsewhere. In 2008, 509,597 thousand pounds (liveweight) of catfish was sold, a 2.6 per cent increase on the previous year. Figures for 2009 are incomplete, however it appears that production each month until October is down dramatically compared to the same months in previous years. 2007 saw the sharpest decrease, since then numbers have picked up slightly.

Prices paid by processors for farm raised catfish (liveweight), peaked in 2006 at 79.6 cents per pound. On average prices have been increasing steadily. Price in January 2008 started at 65.8 cents per pound and finished in December 2008 at 78 cents/ pound. Looking at data available for 2009, prices appear to have taken a downward trend. In October 2009, the price finished at 76.8 cents per pound compared to 82.5 cents per pound for the same month in the previous year.

Corresponding with data for catfish sold to processors, figures show that catfish sold by processors (including fresh and frozen whole fish, fillets and other products) has been steadily decreasing. Between 2004 - 2008, the amount of catfish sold by processors fell 18 per cent. Monthly figures for 2009, look substantially lower than those for 2008.

Overall, prices the processors receive for catfish have been increasing steadily, although they too peaked in 2006. From 2004-2008, prices have increased 9.7 per cent. Over 2009, it appears prices have been falling.

Atlantic Salmon: Value and quantity of imports

Between January - October 2009, 358,426 thousand pounds of atlantic salmon (includes fresh and frozen) have been imported into the US. This figure is down two per cent on the same period for the previous year. Over the last six years, total quantities of salmon imports have steadily increased, with the exception of 2004. In 2008, 439,430 thousand pounds of salmon were imported into the US, compared with 414,379 back in 2003.

The majority of imports were frozen and fresh fillets, followed by fresh imports, with frozen imports representing only 1.8 per cent of total import volume.

The main source of salmon comes from Chile, however their salmon exports to the US have fallen slightly over the last few years. On the contrary, imports from China have increased dramatically, nearly 800 per cent from 2003, when only 1,560 thousand pounds of salmon were imported to 2008, when 13,530 thousand pounds were imported.

Of the total 358,426 thousand pounds of atlantic salmon imported between January - October 2009, the total value was 1,162,797 thousand US dollars.

The figures suggest, that the value of the product has increased only slightly since 2003. Then the value of 414,379 thousand pounds of Atlantic salmon was 915,550 thousand US dollars, in 2009, the value of 358,426 thousand pounds of salmon was 1,162,797 thousand US dollars, suggesting an increase in value of one dollar per pound.

Tilapia: Value and quantity of imports

Imports of tilapia into the US have increased more than doubled since 2003, when only 198,955 thousand pounds were imported, to 395,559 thousand pounds imported in 2008. Imports for the period January to October 2009 appear greater than for the same period last year.

The majority of imports were frozen fillets, followed by whole frozen fish. Frozen fillets represented 60 per cent of total tilapia imports.

Mainland China is the main source of tilapia imports into the US, and demand has grown significantly over the last six years. Imports from Indonesia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Thailand have increased substantially. Imports from Thailand dropped significantly in 2007, but in 2008, increased to four times what they were in 2006. It appears this year, that imports from Thailand may be down again.

As the volume of tilapia imports into the US have increased, the value has increased only marginally by 0.5 US dollars per pound of tilapia. For January - October 2009, the value of tilapia imports into the US were 1.7 US dollars per pound, or 568,737 thousand US dollars for 326,494 thousand pounds of fish.

Shrimps: Value and quantity of imports

Imports of shrimps into the US have remained fairly steady since 2003, peaking in 2006 at 1,306,623 thousand pounds. Figures for January to October 2009, are lower than figures for the previous year. In 2003, shrimp imports totalled 1,114,758 thousand pounds, this increased by 12 per cent to 2008, when 1,248,896 thousand pounds were imported.

Frozen shrimps represented 75 per cent of total imports up to date in 2009.

The majority of imports are from Thailand, which have increased over the past six years. Imports from China, Viet Nam and India appear to have fallen gradually, whereas imports from Indonesia have tripled.

The value of imports up to date in 2009, is 3,075,584 thousand US dollars, which equates to $3.1 per pound of shrimp. This figure is slightly lower than the 2003 value, which was $3.38 per pound.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.
December 2009

the Fish Site Editor

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