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PD/A CRSP Aquanews-Summer 2002

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Congratulations are in order

eruvian Ivano Neira Diaz, a CRSP-sponsored graduate student profiled in the Fall 2000 issue of Aquanews, successfully defended his thesis this May, earning a Master of Science degree in Aquaculture/Fisheries from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. His major professor was Carole Engle.

Analyses of the Potential Market for Farm-raised Tilapia in Nicaragua
(abstract of Ivano Neira Diaz’ M.S. thesis)

Development of the domestic market for farm-raised tilapia could diversify marketing opportunities for Nicaraguan tilapia growers and expand the industry. The goal of this project was to assess the domestic market and evaluate the potential for developing the market.

Restaurant, supermarket and open-air market surveys were conducted in all major urban and rural areas in Nicaragua from August through September, 2000. All the survey questionnaires were administered in person.

A random sample of 118 restaurants were surveyed with a 100% response rate. A census of the supermarkets resulted in 35 completed supermarket questionnaires with a response rate of 95%. A census of the stands in open-air markets resulted in 109 completed questionnaires with a response rate of 100%. Information was collected on both tilapia and other types of fish and seafood sold, relating to supply characteristics, marketing channels, demand characteristics, preferences, consumption patterns, and store characteristics. The data and information obtained from the surveys were analyzed using statistical and econometric procedures.

The statistical results indicated that tilapia was a well known fish specie in Nicaragua. It was considered as the fourth, third, and the second most important finfish sold by restaurant, supermarket and fish vendors in open-air markets, respectively. Some respondents were reluctant to admit selling tilapia due to off-flavor and consumer fears related to wild-caught tilapia from Lake Managua. The fear of contamination from Lake Managua and of fish thought to be caught from the lake was a major factor inhibiting sales of freshwater fish. Tilapia were not sold due to off-flavors, lack of awareness, lack of supply, and fears of selling contaminated fish from Lake Managua. The most were the availability of preferred sizes and insufficient quantities. Tilapia price was low compared to other fish. Nevertheless, tilapia marketing strategies might be developed to position tilapia to compete with whole-dressed guapote and red snap–per, and with drum and red snapper fillets. More than half of the stores interviewed indicated that they were likely to begin to sell farm-raised tila–pia in the coming year. Store manag–ers had positive attitudes towards tilapia attributes; size and price were not obstacles to sell tilapia.

Discrete-choice models were developed for the restaurant market survey data. Logit analyses were used to measure the effects of consumer attitudes, entrée prefer–ences, and restaurant characteristics on binary choice variables related to whether or not restaurants sold tilapia and the likelihood of adding tilapia to the menu.

Logit results showed that the most promising restaurant market for tilapia appeared to be older restaurants that offered a variety of food on the menu and those that served steaks. Larger restaurants that considered tilapia to be a high-quality product and that offered ceviche on the menu were those that tended to sell tilapia. Restaur–ants that did not sell tilapia appeared to be newer, smaller restaurants that specialized in seafood. Experience with off-flavor and poor quality tilapia were factors associated with restaurants that did not sell tilapia.

For the domestic market for farm-raised tilapia to develop in Nicaragua, the issue of consumer fears of contamination must be addressed. Broad-based consumer education and labeling programs may be necessary to overcome perceptions of contamination. Tilapia farms and processors would need to guarantee and ensure the flavor, quality, and safety of their product. Promotional efforts that emphasize these attributes will be essential.

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