The U.S. remains one of the largest importers of Chinese tilapia. However, according to FAO, in the first two quarters of 2017, global tilapia trade witnessed a decline of 6%, attributed to weakening consumer demand, increasing participation of other countries in the global tilapia trade and growing preference for other specialty fishes. A special palate for pangasius has been witnessed among seafood consumers worldwide. Led by Vietnam, nearly half of the global supply of pangasius is held by India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China.
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The U.S. and China continue to remain largest consumers of pangasius. Following the increasing domestic demand and lower prices of pangasius, Chinese tilapia farmers are adopting farming of other fish varieties including pangasius. These dynamics continue to deter the future growth of the Chinese tilapia exports in prominent tilapia market.
Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) is an emerging threat to global tilapia market where established markets show concern towards risks of introduction of infection through imports. In a bid to avoid a considerable production loss due to TiLV infection, aversion for imports from TiLV-prone countries is observed wherein national markets show increased concern for low quality and possible contamination risks. However, imports continue against the backdrop of widening the supply-demand gap, in turn, adding the risks of production loss.
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Although, active surveillance work by governments and development partners is underway aquaculture lacks effective vaccines for viral diseases including TiLV. Owing to this, TiLV continues to remain a challenge for tilapia producing countries.
As one of the most popular farmed fish, a bulk of tilapia consumption, mostly fresh tilapia is met by domestic production. Especially in the Asian seafood industry, supply chain starts from small fish farmers to big city vendors. China, the world’s largest producer of tilapia also exports only about 10% of its total tilapia production. Following this, the tilapia marketplace continues to remain consolidated among Tier 3 players. In the highly unorganized market, small players continue to leverage opportunities in the domestic tilapia market with their strong local presence and limited regulatory constraints.
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