Tilapia farms in the Northwest region of the State of São Paulo. Photo: Guilherme Mendes / Innovation Norway
The most recent statistics released by the Brazilian Ministry of Fisheries and Acquaculture point that Brazil’s fish farming production estimate of around 500,000 tons (2010 data).
Most of the production comes from the Southeast and South regions (over 60%). The town of Santa Fé do Sul, located in the Northwestern part of the State of São Paulo, has a competitive advantage compared to other regions due to favorable weather and water temperature, clean water from three rivers and proximity with large consumer markets and universities dedicated to technology development and research.
The drought in the region has affected local businesses. In Santa Fé do Sul, there was a 30% reduction in fish farming activities during the previous year. As a consequence, several investors have chosen to wait for regular water levels prior to continue with investments in increased production capacity.
One of the main players in the region is Zippy Alimentos, based in the town of Santa Clara d’Oeste, 30 minutes driving from Santa Fé do Sul. The company produces around 300 ton/month. Zippy’s fish farming takes place in net-cages produced by themselves. The company controls the value chain from hatchery to warehousing, except that they buy fish from a partner. The company also produces their own fish feed, except the second stage of fish feed (1mm).
Peixe Vivo is also based in the region of Santa Fé do Sul and produces tilapia fingerlings. The fish farm uses around 50 excavated tanks and 120 iron and cement tanks, and also supplies for all local fish farmers.
Royal Fish has developed expertise in the Saint Peter tilapia production (red tilapia). The company has three sites in strategic points of São Paulo state, divided by the phases of the value chain: a) genetics and reproduction, in the city of Itupeva; b) feeding and fattening, in Santa Clara d’Oeste; and c) refrigerator, in Sumaré.
The industry has a strong growth potential. Some factors that contributed to growth were improvement in seed quality through the adoption of sex reversal technology in the early 90’s; embracement of small-volume, high-density cage technology; promptly response of the Brazilian animal feed market, that has knowledge, structure, equipment and a larger supply of feed ingredients to produce efficient feeds for tilapia and other fish species; and a large domestic market, which has so far absorbed the whole production.