According to industry sources, the price of tilapia is still high, although the price of other farmed seafood has dropped after the end of the Chinese National Day holiday on Oct 6. Tilapia raw materials are in short supply in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, and supply is expected to be limited until the second quarter of next year.
Landy, marketing manager at China Frozen Seafood Distributors, said tilapia prices had fluctuated wildly in recent months. After hitting a low of around 7.2 CNY ($0.98)/kg this summer, the price of fish weighing 500-800 grams has jumped to around 10.4 CNY/kg.
Attribute the volatility to a typical boom-bust market cycle. When prices fall below the cost of production, farmers run down stocks of fish, reducing supply within months of those fish reaching harvest specifications. Given the current high prices, farmers are expected to increase stocks of fish this winter. This could lead to oversupply and lower prices during the seasonal downturn in export demand in April-May. When prices rise, farmers tend to release more fish into ponds.
For now, given limited supply and recovering but still weak export demand, tilapia prices will remain at the current level of around 10 CNY/kg until the Lunar New Year at the end of January. As Christmas approaches, export orders will increase, which will further push up tilapia prices, which have been depressed by limited domestic supplies.
Due to the slowdown in the international market, China's tilapia processing exports have declined year by year from 2018 to 2022. Ready-to-eat tilapia and other tilapia products have low buyback rates, and processed tilapia has limited growth potential in China.