Aquaculture America 2023

February 23 - 26, 2023

New Orleans, Louisiana USA


Fitzsimmons, K.*

University of Arizona, Department of Environmental Science
Tucson, Arizona


2022 appears to have shaped up as a banner year for tilapia production and consumption. The minor exception seems to have been China, where the continued Covid restrictions hurt production from farms, sales in stores and consumption in restaurants.   Otherwise, the global covid recovery has seen bounce backs in production and consumption in most countries. The industry has noted a significant increase in feed prices globally, mostly due to commodity shortages in grains and oilseeds related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, along with the overall global inflation rate. 

However, global inflation has a silver lining for the tilapia market.  As one of the lower cost protein sources in many countries, tilapia demand increased considerably.  As the pandemic abated, the major importing countries reported increasing grocery sales of fresh and frozen fillets to be prepared for home consumption. High fuel costs also led to considerable price increases for most wild caught seafood, leaving even more space for tilapia (and some of the other farmed white fish) to gain market share.  The unraveling of supply chain bottlenecks for refrigerated containers and port facilities was especially helpful for tilapia as so much of the product is transported internationally.   

Most tilapia consumption still occurs in the domestic markets of producing countries. Often, tilapia farmers and their neighbors are the single biggest consumers. This floor of demand held up as producers were able to increase production to supply increases in international demand.  

Another bright spot has been the increase in positive press for tilapia.  As consumers search for lower cost protein and especially healthy seafood, many writers are suggesting tilapia as a high quality and safe product.  The false claims filling the internet from years past, seems to have finally been replaced by truthful and accurate information.

Brazil and Bangladesh have probably been the brightest spots for increased tilapia production (and consumption) in 2022.  Correspondents from both countries have predicted that 2022 will see production exceed 400,000 mt. each, while their domestic demand and export markets increased. Vietnam also expects to well exceed 300,000 mt. in production, with most staying in domestic markets. Egypt and Indonesia also expect to see moderate increases in production and demand.  Besides the slowdown in China, Ecuador was reported to have reduced tilapia production, switching some production from tilapia back to more lucrative shrimp farming. While US consumption has increased in 2022, domestic production has been static.  One of the largest US farms shifted production to barramundi, with the production barely replaced with increases from other farms.

Overall, the best estimates suggest that global production increased in 2022 to 6.8 million mt.  2023 is looking positive and should see increasing US domestic demand and international production and demand.  Prices will increase due to overall inflationary pressure, but much less than wild-caught seafoods.