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Catfish processing up 18 percent from last year

Farm-raised catfish processed during May 2008 totaled 45.7 million pounds round weight, up 18 percent from May 2007. The average price paid to producers was 77.4 cents per pound for May 2008, up 2.1 cents from last month but 6.6 cents below a year ago.

Net pounds of processed fish sold during May 2008 totaled 21.8 million pounds, down 1 percent from the comparable month in 2007. The total end of the month inventory increased 1 percent from last month but was down 25 percent from a year ago.

Sales of fresh fish, at 7.91 million pounds, were up 1 percent from May 2007 and represented 36 percent of total sales. Frozen fish sales, at 13.9 million pounds, were down 2 percent from a year ago and accounted for the remaining 64 percent of total fish sales. Sales of whole fish represented 20 percent of the total fish sold, fillets accounted for 59 percent, and the remaining 21 percent were mostly steaks, nuggets, and value added products.

The May 2008 average price received by processors for total fresh fish was $2.36 per pound, down 21 cents from last year. Prices for fresh whole fish were $1.57 per pound, down 14 cents from May 2007. Prices for fresh fillets were down 17 cents from a year ago at $3.10 per pound. Total frozen fish averaged $2.45 per pound, down 3 cents from May 2007. Prices for frozen whole dressed fish were down 7 cents at $2.16 and frozen fillets at $2.88 per pound were down 11 cents from a year ago.

Freshwater imports for consumption of Ictalurus spp., Pangasius spp., and other catfish of the order Siluriformes for April 2008 totaled 10.5 million pounds, up 106 percent from the amount imported in April 2007.

Imports were from Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Ictalurus spp. imports totaled 3.04 million pounds, which were from Brazil, China, and Ecuador.

Fresh boneless catfish fillet exports totaled 72,300 pounds, with 68,600 pounds going to Canada and the rest going to the Netherlands and Trinidad and Tobago. Exports of frozen, boneless catfish fillets reported for April 2008 totaled 1,200 pounds going to the Bahamas.

Import and export data are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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