Colombian Tilapia, the most imported in the United States

Published on 20 November 2020

The South American country's producers have managed to establish themselves and move forward despite the challenge imposed by a complicated economic environment. See the details in this article.

Aquaculture allows to supply the market with fish in a programmed way and with a complete business model. Colombian producers of tilapia have been able to understand this and have succeeded in placing their shipments in the hands of the market with the best balance between scale, logistical ease and purchasing power: the United States. Their consolidation in this market continues, and although other destinations have been developed in parallel over the last four years (see pie graph showing it as the only external market in 2016), none has reached a scale of millions.

Today there have been advances in diversification, but no other destination has become significant. The following table shows how sales are made almost exclusively to the North American country. Latin America and Europe are areas with potential, but where there is also competition from Asian producers, and even local ones in the first of these two regions.

A successful 2020

As already mentioned, Colombian tilapia exporters have managed to strengthen their consolidation as the main source for the US market. In the midst of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, exports have increased to double digits in terms of quantity, at a higher rate than all other destinations that are even in the development phase, and therefore would be expected to grow at a greater speed.

Volatile but manageable product

It should be noted that the offer should be planned according to the consumption prospects. As shown in the following graph, prices have had a downward trend, a type of situation in which Asian countries usually have an advantage because of the low costs of hiring personnel to handle production, processing and packaging.

In parallel, the value of shipments is volatile throughout the year, among other things because of the possibility of handling production in the lagoons and stocks of frozen fillets. It remains to be seen how the year will end, but figures from March to August indicate that, if there were a reduction in November and December, it would not be due to the pandemic but to productive or competitive issues. The following graph gives an idea of this, and shows that even November could have a seasonal trend towards recovery.

Everything seems to indicate that consumption in the United States will continue to be the basis for the development of tilapia production in Colombia.
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