China's tilapia has entered a seemingly flat trajectory following recent ups and downs, which have seen Chinese tilapia prices plummet by 30% in three months amid speculation over U.S. tariffs.
Urner Barry reported the average price range for Chinese-origin frozen tilapia fillets, 3-5 oz sizes, at $3.20-$3.30 per pound, the same price range as at least since July 21. Down 7%-12% from the June 14 price of $3.55-3.65/lb.
Don Kelley, purchasing manager at Washington-based seafood importer Western Edge, confirmed that tilapia prices have been fluctuating up and down until recently leveling off. Part of the reason for the early surge in prices, he believes, is that Chinese tilapia is a low-to-medium-priced option at a time when other seafood prices are soaring.
Consider that the average price range for frozen 3-5 oz Chinese fillets was as low as $2.25-2.35/lb in November 2020, and then rose 51% to 62% over the next roughly 18 months. Kelley believes the recent price drop is just a matter of the market, as seafood companies find themselves well stocked with tilapia and are in no rush to buy more. But that has stopped, and the market remains relatively stable for now.
He believes that companies still have ample inventories. "Everyone is expected to place orders in the first and second quarters of next year, but no one feels urgency," he said.
Several large processors expect tariffs to drop in August, said Landy Chow, marketing manager in China for frozen food distributor Siam Canadian Group. He said U.S. buyers had delayed purchases to avoid getting caught up in imports of goods that were eventually hit with a 25 percent tariff.
"Everyone is waiting for when the new tariffs will start. We thought it would be mid-August."
In the first half of this year, the US imported 93,031 tonnes worth $387.8 million, an increase of 15% in volume and 38% in value compared to the first six months of 2021. So far, U.S. imports are on track to reach last year's total in 2022.
The price of tilapia is expected to rise in October, the second half of the purchasing season is coming, in order to grasp the price, please make a timely purchase plan.