|PD/A CRSP Eighteenth Annual Technical Report|
Table of Contents
Cite as: [Author(s), 2001. Title.] In: A. Gupta, K. McElwee, D. Burke, J. Burright, X. Cummings, and H. Egna (Editors), Eighteenth Annual Technical Report. Pond Dynamics/Aquaculture CRSP, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, [pp. ___.]
Three surveys were conducted in Honduras from September through December 1999. A random sample of restaurants and a census of supermarkets and fish markets were conducted in the major urban areas and in selected small rural towns. Descriptive analyses of the restaurant and supermarket surveys are attached; the descriptive analysis of the fish market vendor survey is nearly complete. Quantitative analyses of the survey data have been initiated. Similar surveys are scheduled to be conducted in Nicaragua from August through October 2000. Descriptive and quantitative analyses will also be conducted with the Nicaraguan survey data.
Tilapia culture was initiated in Honduras in the late 1970s (Teichert-Coddington and Green, 1997). In the early years, tilapia production was primarily a small-scale, family operation that was managed either extensively or semi-intensively as a supplemental agricultural activity. Sarmiento and Lanza Nuñez (1995) found a total of 113.6 ha of small-scale, family-level fish ponds (2,738 ponds) in every department (province) of Honduras.
Export oriented production of tilapia began in 1990 and has grown rapidly since 1991 and 1992 (Teichert-Coddington and Green, 1997). In 1997, there were 15 tilapia farms with a total water surface of 185.3 ha that produced for export and domestic markets. These farms produce tilapia exclusively and are owned by individuals, local investors, and international investors (Green and Engle, in press). Exports of tilapia to the US from Honduras have grown consistently since 1992.
The rapid growth in tilapia production is expected to generate a supply that could be available domestically in Honduras. The development of a strong domestic market for tilapia in Honduras could diversify market opportunities for tilapia growers and serve to stabilize this young aquaculture industry from the external shocks common in export-oriented markets. Furthermore, the development of a domestic market could enhance the income generating potential of small-scale tilapia production.
A limited amount of work has been done on markets for finfish in Central America. The few studies that have been carried out focused on the catch from commercial fisheries in Panama (Matton, 1981) and Costa Rica (Scheid and Sutinen, 1979). Head et al. (1994) developed market guidelines for saltwater-cultured Florida red tilapia in Puerto Rico. Several studies conducted in the US have examined the potential to develop markets for tilapia (Crawford et al., 1978; Nelson et al., 1983; Galbreath and Barnes, 1981). More recently, Swanson (1995) described US market requirements for tilapia. Engle (1997) interviewed intermediate seafood buyers in the US to determine the potential to increase sales of fresh and frozen tilapia fillets in the US. However, virtually no work has been done on the potential to develop domestic markets in Central America for tilapia. Engle (1997) describes the domestic markets that have emerged in Colombia for Colombian and Ecuadorian produced tilapia.
Direct personal interviews were conducted in Honduras in 1999 based on a census of supermarkets and fish market vendors and a random sample of restaurants in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula (the two main urban population centers in Honduras) and in selected small rural towns. Small rural towns were selected along the primary route from north to south through the country to collect data along a possible gradient of preferences between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Honduras is the only Central American country with good access between the two coasts where this might be possible. Additional towns that were large enough to be included on maps and located to the east and west of the Tegucigalpa-San Pedro Sula highway were included. In all, the following small rural towns were included in the survey: Catascamas, Siguatepeque, Santa Barbara, Comaguela, Lago de Yojoa, Choluteca, Puerto Cortes, Juticalpa, Comayagua, La Paz, Santa Maria del Real, and Campamento La Lima.
Fast-food eating establishments, bars, cafes, and Chinese restaurants were excluded from the restaurant survey; only full-service restaurants were represented. Supermarkets represented in the survey excluded convenience stores. In the fish markets, only those vendors with a market stand within the market were interviewed. If there were itinerant vendors selling fish outside the market area they were excluded from the survey.
The survey instruments were designed to obtain descriptive information about the restaurants, supermarkets, and fish market vendors. This information included the other types of fish and seafood sold, prices, most frequently sold fish products, and supplier information. Awareness and availability of tilapia were addressed through questions related to the managers' familiarity with tilapia as well as questions related to the supply of tilapia. Information on restaurant and supermarket manager and fish market vendor attitudes towards attributes such as flavor, odor, supply, quality, ease of preparation, size, and price was elicited by asking respondents to assign a value from 1 to 10 in response to statements concerning each attribute. A score of 1 represented complete disagreement with the sentence, and a score of 10 represented complete agreement.
Characteristics related to the clientele and to the restaurant, supermarket, and fish markets interviewed were necessary to interpret responses to the survey. Questions were asked about the size of the stores and restaurants, the type of ownership, location, years in business, and the type of food sold or served.
The response rate was very high. This is likely due to the novelty of marketing surveys in Honduras. People were surprised to be asked to participate but were extremely cooperative. The response rate was 99% for the restaurant survey, 100% for the supermarket survey, and 100% for the fish market survey. In all, 73 restaurant, 54 supermarket, and 66 fish market questionnaires were completed.
Restaurant and supermarket managers and fish market vendors participated in the study. There were 86 potential questions on the restaurant questionnaire, 56 potential questions on the supermarket questionnaire, and 40 potential questions on the fish market vendor questionnaire. The restaurant interviews lasted the longest. Frequently, the managers provided samples of various fish and seafood preparations and wanted to discuss a variety of issues in addition to the survey. These interviews often lasted from 15 minutes up to one hour. The supermarket interviews lasted approximately 12 minutes while the fish market vendor interviews were the shortest at approximately 7 minutes.
Of the 73 completed questionnaires, 64% of the respondents were located in the Pacific coast, or central-south, region of Honduras while 36% were located in the north, reflecting the greater population density in the central-south part of the country (Table 1). Only 3% of the restaurants that responded to the survey did not sell fish at all. Seventy-three percent sold fish but not tilapia, and 25% of the restaurants sold tilapia. There was little difference in the percentages of those selling different types of fish from those selling tilapia between the two regions in the country.
Forty-seven percent of the restaurants surveyed had fish and seafood sales that composed greater than 40% of their total sales; 39% of the restaurants had fish and seafood sales that composed 2040% of their total sales; and 19% had fish and seafood sales that composed 019% of their total sales (Table 2). The north region had a higher percentage (52%) of restaurants that had greater than 40% of their total sales from fish and seafood compared to the central-south (40%). The central-south region also had a higher percentage (20%) of restaurants that had only 019% of their total sales from fish and seafood compared to the north region (8%). There was only one restaurant in each region that did not include some type of fish or seafood on the menu. While nearly all restaurants surveyed included some type of fish and seafood, restaurants in the north relied more heavily on fish and seafood sales than did restaurants in the central-south part of the country. This corresponds with various observations made during the survey that people in the north consume fish and seafood more frequently than do people in the central-south region of Honduras.
Shrimp was indicated most often as one of the most popular types of fish or seafood on restaurant menus (Table 3). Shrimp was followed in descending order by conch, "other fish," corvina, "other shellfish," robalo, lobster, red tilapia, crab, red pargo, and black tilapia. "Other fish" refers to a frequent menu item that can be any of a number of different species of finfish depending on the daily catch and what the suppliers have available fresh that day. "Other fish" often is corvina, robalo, pargo, or other marine species. Regionally, corvina was identified as the second most popular type of fish and seafood after shrimp in the central-south region, while "other fish" was the second most popular item mentioned in the north region. Crab was identified as the fifth most popular in the central-south region but the least mentioned in the north region.
The peak demand period was indicated to be the Easter season during March and April by 43% of the respondents (Table 4). Interestingly, another 35% responded that there was no one peak demand period, and 19% said that the period from September through December, or around Christmas, was the peak demand period. Similar percentages of respondents in the central-south and north regions agreed that March through April was the peak demand period, but more respondents in the north (28%) indicated that September through December was the peak demand period than did respondents in the central-south region (15%).
Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that they were selling the same amount of fish in 1999 and 1998 (Table 5). Twenty-seven percent said they were selling more, and 25% said they were selling less in 1999 compared to 1998. There were apparent regional differences in the response to this question. In the north, 44% of respondents said that they were selling less compared to only 15% who said they were selling less in the central-south region. Thirty percent of respondents in the central-south region said that they were selling more compared to only 20% in the north. In the central-south region, 46% said they were selling the same amount as one year ago, but only 20% of respondents in the north made the same assessment.
There were fewer restaurants with similar sales in 1999 and 1997 (Table 5). Higher percentages of respondents were recorded for both the categories of selling more and for selling less in 1999. Fewer respondents in both regions indicated that their sales were the same in 1999 and 1997 than the percentages indicating similar sales in 1999 and 1998. Higher percentages of central-south respondents were recorded for both categories of selling more and selling less in 1999 as compared to 1997. However, there were more respondents in the north indicating lower sales in 1999 as compared to 1997 than did when comparing 1999 to 1998 sales. Fewer respondents in the north said they were selling more in 1999 compared to 1997 than did when comparing 1999 to 1998 sales. These results seem to indicate a good deal of fluctuation in fish and seafood sales between 1997 and 1999. Some of the fluctuation may be due to the effects of hurricane Mitch on both the capture fisheries and the Honduran economy.
Breaded shrimp was mentioned most often as the top fish and seafood dish or appetizer in terms of sales (Table 6). It was followed in descending order of importance by fried fish, garlic shrimp, shrimp cocktail, soup (mariner's and conch), breaded fish, fish ceviche, grilled fish, and garlic fish.
Fried fish was the dish mentioned most often as having the fastest sales growth in the last year (Table 7). It was followed by breaded shrimp, conch soup, garlic shrimp, shrimp cocktail, breaded fish, fish ceviche, mariner's soup, and grilled shrimp.
Wholesalers were mentioned as the major suppliers of fish and seafood by the highest percentage (74%) of respondents in both the central-south and north regions (Table 8). Some restaurants (20%) also purchased fish and seafood directly from fishermen or fish farmers. One notable regional difference was that only restaurants in the central-south region indicated that they purchased from fish farmers.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents indicated that their wholesalers were from the central-south region while another 28% reported that their wholesalers were from the north.
Over half (59%) of the respondents had two or fewer different suppliers. An additional 27% had from three to five different suppliers, and only 13% had more than seven different suppliers.
Eighty percent of respondents did not transport their own fish. Twenty percent did haul their own fish. A few restaurants (8.5%) delivered fish to other restaurants.
Overall, 46% of respondents indicated that they were likely to begin adding tilapia to their menu in the next year (Table 9). Thirty-eight percent said that they would be unlikely to add tilapia to their menu in the next year, and 15% did not know. There was a marked regional difference in response to this question. Over half of the respondents in the central-south region expressed the likelihood of adding tilapia and only 26% were unlikely to add tilapia. However, in the north, only one-third (33%) were likely to add tilapia, but 61% were unlikely to do so.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents indicated that they could get tilapia supplied on a consistent basis (Table 10). However, respondents in the central-south region were more likely (72%) to indicate that tilapia supplies were consistent than respondents in the north (57%).
Across all respondents, the most often cited tilapia supply problem was seasonality of supply or unavailability at certain times of the year (Table 11). Insufficient quantities of tilapia, lack of availability of preferred sizes, and other, unspecified, problems of supply were mentioned. However, only respondents in the north mentioned problems of insufficient quantity.
Half (50%) of the respondents had been selling tilapia for more than five years, 22% for more than two but less than five years. Another 28% had been selling for less than two years (Table 12).
Sixty-one percent of respondents indicated that they sold more tilapia in 1999 compared to 1998 (Table 13). However, only 39% said that they sold more in 1999 than in 1997. In the north region, 71% said they sold more in 1999 than in 1998, but only 29% said that 1999 sales were higher than 1997 sales. In the central-south region, 54% said that they sold more in 1999 than 1998, and 46% said that they sold more in 1999 than 1997. These results indicate that 1998 sales were lower than normal, but sales in 1999 had recovered and tended to be somewhat higher than in 1997.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that they sold fresh whole-dressed tilapia (Table 14). An additional 33% sold fresh fillets; 11% sold tilapia live; and 6% sold frozen whole-dressed tilapia. The majority (57%) of those selling tilapia sold less than 50 lb wk-1. Sixty-seven percent of respondents sold 1-lb fresh whole-dressed tilapia, while 33% sold 2-lb fresh whole-dressed tilapia. All respondents who sold fillets indicated that they sold 1-lb fillets.
Only 22% of respondents transported their own tilapia. Seventy-eight percent had the tilapia delivered to their restaurant.
All respondents fried tilapia to serve in their restaurants (Table 15). In addition, 33% breaded tilapia. This was a more common form of preparation in the central-south region (19%) than in the north (14%). However, 43% of respondents in the north also served tilapia as a boneless product compared to only 4% in the central-south region. An additional 17 to 22% of respondents served tilapia grilled or in a garlic sauce. Respondents in the central-south region also used an onion sauce to prepare tilapia.
All respondents served tilapia as a main dish. An additional 11% also served it as an appetizer.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they did not have any problems with the quality of tilapia products (Table 16). None of the respondents in the north indicated any quality problems while 18% of respondents in the central-south region indicated problems with the quality of tilapia products. Problems mentioned, while few, included off-flavor, freshness concerns, and fish being too small.
Only 39% of respondents reported using some form of promotion of tilapia products (Table 17). Promotion of tilapia products was more common in the north than in the central-south region. Types of promotion used included in-store signs, radio, discounted specials, news circular, TV, newspaper, and in-store samples. In-store signs and radio announcements were the most common.
Respondents were asked to rank tilapia on a series of attributes on a scale of 1 to 10, in which 1 meant strong disagreement and 10 indicated complete agreement (Table 18). Restaurants that sold tilapia rated it highly on all attributes, except they disagreed that the price of tilapia was too high. Respondents of restaurants that had tilapia on the menu were neutral about the size of the fish supplied.
Restaurants that did not include tilapia on the menu rated tilapia low on reliable quality, availability, and preferences of consumers. Ratings on flavor, odor, and quality attributes were more neutral. Price was not considered to be too high, and tilapia was rated highly on ease of preparation. Responses to the size statement were neutral. Responses to the statement that patrons would like the additional variety that tilapia would add were nearly neutral (5.04 mean rating).
These results indicate clear differences in attitudes towards tilapia. Restaurants that serve tilapia rate it highly on all attributes; restaurants that do not have tilapia on the menu rate it much lower. The lowest ratings by restaurants that did not offer tilapia were for reliability of quality and availability. Still, ratings on the reliability of tilapia quality were neutral, particularly in the central-south region. Flavor and odor rankings were also nearly neutral. These results suggest that if tilapia farmers can guarantee supplies and availability of high-quality tilapia and combine this with samples and recipes, they could take advantage of the importance of variety to consumers by suggesting tilapia dishes as daily specials. This may be the best means of introducing tilapia to both restaurant mangers and their clientele as long as supplies can be guaranteed and reliable.
The most important services of the restaurant respondents were banquets (86%), lunch (82%), dinner (80%), and carry-out (74%) (Table 19).
Of the 54 completed supermarket questionnaires, 70% were from the central-south region and 30% from the north (Table 20). This reflects the greater population levels in the central-south part of the country. All of the supermarkets sold some type of fish product. Overall, 41% sold tilapia, 24% used to sell tilapia but did not currently sell tilapia, and 35% had never sold tilapia. A much higher percentage of respondents in the north region were selling tilapia as compared to only 32% of the respondents in the central-south region. The central-south region had a higher percentage of stores (29%) that used to sell tilapia as compared to only 12% in the north.
In the north, the lack of demand was mentioned as a reason for either not selling or ceasing to sell tilapia (Table 21). However, in the central-south region, storage problems were cited most frequently as the reason for not having ever sold tilapia. This was followed by the citing of a lack of availability during certain times of the year. Supermarkets in the central-south region that used to sell tilapia indicated that it was not fresh and that it was not available at certain times of the year. None of the stores indicated that they had not heard of tilapia, that the wholesale price was too high, that fish were too small, that consumers had negative attitudes towards tilapia, or that tilapia tasted like earth.
Overall, 50% of supermarket managers responded that they were either somewhat or very likely to begin to sell tilapia in the next year (Table 22). There were an additional 25% who did not know if they might and 25% who were very unlikely to begin to sell tilapia. There was a marked regional difference in response to this question. All of the respondents in the north region said that they were likely to sell tilapia in the next year, but only 38% of central-south respondents indicated that they were likely to do so. Thirty-one percent said that they were very unlikely to do so.
The majority (60%) of the supermarket respondents began to sell tilapia in the last three years (19971999) (Table 23). Another 23% of supermarket managers responded that they began to sell tilapia in the last 6 years (19931996) while only 17% began selling tilapia prior to 1992. There was little difference between responses from the central-south and north region.
Twenty-six percent of respondents indicated that they sold more tilapia in 1999 compared to each of 1998 and 1997 (Table 24). Only 17% said they were selling less tilapia in 1999 as compared to each of 1998 and 1997.
Over half (54%) of respondents purchased tilapia from wholesalers (Table 25). Another 17% purchased tilapia from fish farms. There were no regional differences in type of suppliers of tilapia. The majority (57%) of the supermarkets that sold tilapia purchased from only one to two different suppliers. None had more than four suppliers.
Table 26 lists preference ratings for supermarkets that purchased tilapia for a variety of attributes. On a scale of 110, a score less than 5 indicates disagreement; 5 is a neutral score, and a score above 5 indicates agreement with the statement. Respondents rated tilapia favorably on supply, availability, patrons' preferences, odor, flavor, ease of preparation, price, variety, and size. Of these, quality received the highest ratings along with ease of preparation. In general, responses of those who purchased tilapia from the central-south were lower, although still positive, than responses from supermarkets with suppliers from the north.
The majority (71%) of respondents did not transport their own tilapia. The remaining 29% did not answer this question.
Less than half (49%) indicated that their supply of tilapia had been consistent (Table 27). Another 23% indicated it had not been, and 28% did not answer. Responses were similar for supermarkets with suppliers in the north and central-south regions. However, 75% of the respondents who obtained fish from Nicaragua said that their supply was consistent.
The most commonly cited supply problem was that tilapia was unavailable at certain times of the year (Table 28). This was followed by insufficient quantity and a few responses related to unavailability of certain product forms, unreliable quantity, and off-flavor fish. There were more respondents with suppliers from the north who indicated insufficient quantity as the major supply problem.
The top selling tilapia product was fresh whole-dressed fish (57%) followed by fresh fillets (20%) (Table 29). There was little difference between respondents in the north and central-south regions on fresh whole-dressed fish; however, 13% of supermarkets in the central-south region that sold tilapia sold them as frozen whole-dressed products and even fewer (9%) sold fresh fillets. By comparison, 42% of the supermarkets in the north that sold tilapia handled fresh fillets, and none sold frozen whole-dressed fish.
Tilapia volumes sold daily were low (Table 30). Most of the supermarket respondents indicated that they sold from 0 to 10 lb d-1 of fresh whole-dressed tilapia. An additional 30% sold from 20 to 30 lb d-1. Sales of fresh fillets were of similar magnitude.
The most frequent prices for fresh whole-dressed tilapia were in the range of 10 to 15 Lempiras lb-1 (Table 31). Fewer respondents sold fresh whole-dressed tilapia at higher prices. Fresh fillet prices were mostly in the range of 30 to 40 Lempiras lb-1.
Wholesale prices of fresh whole-dressed tilapia were in the range of 5 to 10 Lempiras for 68% of the supermarket respondents (Table 32). Thirty-two percent of supermarkets purchased fresh whole-dressed tilapia at higher prices.
Only 11% of respondents indicated that they experienced problems with the quality of tilapia that they purchased (Table 33). Sixty percent said that they did not have problems with the quality of the tilapia. Of those that mentioned quality problems, off-flavor and freshness were the problems most frequently cited (Table 34).
Only 34% of the supermarket respondents used any form of promotion (Table 35). However, 42% of the respondents in the north did promote tilapia as compared to only 30% in the central-south region. In-store signs, discounted specials, and newspaper advertisements were the most common forms of promotion (Table 36). Some supermarkets also used radio advertising to promote tilapia sales.
Most supermarkets (54%) reported that suppliers of fish and seafood were wholesalers (Table 37). A few respondents purchased directly from fishermen or from a processor.
Half of the supermarket respondents had been in business less than 5 years (Table 38). An additional 12% had been in business for more than 20 years. The recent economic expansion in Honduras may have resulted in this evident growth in the supermarket sector.
Half of the supermarkets responding to the survey had weekly sales volumes of less than 540,000 Lempiras (Table 39). An additional 32% of respondents had weekly sales from 540,000 to 1,012,500 Lempiras, and the remaining 17% had weekly sales greater than 1,012,500 Lempiras.
Middle-income mestizos were the clientele group mentioned most frequently (82% of the time) as patrons of the responding supermarket managers (Table 40). Equal proportions by both high- and low-income mestizo groups were next most frequently mentioned. Twenty-four percent of the clientele was characterized as international.
The top fish and seafood product in terms of sales in the supermarkets was shrimp, mentioned by 52% of respondents (Table 41). This was followed by conch (35%), jaiba (33%), robalo (26%), "red" fish (22%), "other fish" (20%), corvina (18%), "fish fillets" (17%), red tilapia (17%), red pargo (17%), "other shellfish" (15%), crab (9%), and tilapia fillets (13%). There were some regional differences in the listing. More respondents in the north rated conch, "red" fish, red tilapia, crab, and tilapia fillets as top products than in the central-south region. However, in the central-south region, corvina and red pargo were more frequently mentioned as top products. The seafood items reported to have the fastest sales growth were often identified as those with the highest sales volumes (Table 42).
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