Tilapia is one of the most well-positioned species for trade and production in seafood and aquaculture. In 2020, it reached a value of $7.9 billion USD and the market is expected to grow at a compounding annual rate of 6.1% during the 2021-2026 projection. Tilapia is found in most countries of the world, as more than 140 countries now produce it. An essential component of the growing tilapia industry is the proliferation of ways in which tilapia is packaged and sold. Tilapia exports were initially only whole and frozen fish. Currently, fresh or frozen fillets can be obtained in different sizes and packages: with skin, without skin, individually set, smoked, and in "sashimi" grade.
The tilapia market has been produced mainly in countries like China, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Brazil, Thailand and others, where China is the leading producer and trader of tilapia globally. For the remainder of 2021, international tilapia trade statistics are uncertain and largely dependent on events affecting the trade relationship between China and the United States. The Chinese tilapia market could increase the Chinese industry's current difficulties and strengthen competing producers' positions.
In recent years, tilapia has suffered from bad press in the United States. US demand has stagnated as a result of American consumers preferring fillets over whole fish, even though the seafood category as a whole is performing relatively well. Due to this, in the first three months of the year, China exports frozen fillets to the US market to meet demand. The value of tilapia being exported by China now exceeds the sum of $714 million USD. It should be noted that China is globally recognized in the industry for generating low export costs with $1.05 and $0.77USD quality and mass production. Indonesia follows China at $1.66USD generally and by supplying premium tilapia in the $6-7USD per kg price range, which saw exports to the United States rise significantly in the first quarter of 2021. Nevertheless, the Indonesian market absorbs the majority of domestic production.
In Africa, Egypt exports 80% of its tilapia, which is 940,000 of the 1.2 million produced. In Latin and South America, several countries have embarked on initiatives intended to help develop tilapia production. Brazil, for example, has increased its production by 12%+, producing around 400,000 tones in a year. The governments in Colombia and Mexico have invested in the tilapia programs in order to improve production and export development in hopes of capitalising on the premium target market in the United States. The Colombian government also has the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA) that is in charge of supervising and following up public policies and rates abroad.
The tilapia market continues to grow and develop in many countries. The countries that are developing advances in the industry are discussing tilapa sub-products such as biodiesel, medical biomaterials, leather, accessories, skin gelatin for slow-release medications, and flower arrangements made with dried flakes. The countries are betting on investment, production, commercialization and export of the species. Tilapia is seen as the future of the mass production of fish for farming and wild living.