Tilapia in Brazil

With its immense tropical area with lots of rivers and lakes, Brazil has very good conditions for tilapia aquaculture. As the fishing industry cannot satisfy the domestic demand for fish and shrimps, the farming of Oreochromis niloticus increases year after year and is the most consolidated of the Amazonian fish farming. Official figures are unknown but several private (like PEIXE BR) and public authorities estimate that in 2016 the total production of tilapia exceeded 300,000 tonnes, although this is not yet visible in FAO statistics. All Brazilian states practice some type of tilapia farming but the most advanced in the state of São Paulo. This region has a favorable climate, three large rivers, several reservoirs and it is close to the large consumer markets like São Paulo City. However, 2014 was characterized by a severe drought, which especially hit the state of São Paulo. Researchers are saying that it was the worst drought in the last 100 years. As result, it is estimated that tilapia harvest declined by 30% compared to 2013 figures. Other important regions for tilapia farming are Paraná, Ceará, Paulo Afonso and Goiás.


Sourcing news

Source: FAO (2017)

Since 2010 there has been no Brazilian authority that has kept the statistics on national fishing practices, so only FAO data is used. It is estimated by private and public authorities that tilapia is the main farmed species responsible for around 39% of freshwater production. Overall, it is believed that during the last 10 years there has been an average increase of 8% per year on the Brazilian fish farming activities, which is likely to continue in the coming years as long as there are no more severe droughts.

Source: Since there has been no Brazilian authority that kept statistics on national fishing practices, the graph only show numbers for 2014 estimated by private and public authorities.

When it comes to the national production of tilapia, there are basically three main areas in Brazil: Northeast Region, northwest region of São Paulo state, and west of Paraná state. The state of São Paulo has definitely secured a prominent position in the recent years for tilapia farming. This region has a favorable climate, three big rivers and lots of reservoirs. However, production in Rondonia and Mato Grosso has increased sharply recently due to a new aquaculture strategy in large, already existing ponds that have allowed for an increase in production area with minimum extra investments.

Source: Trade Map (2017), International Trade Centre, intracen.org.

Exports of tilapia are virtually non-existent. The United States was the only importer of Brazilian 2016, which did show a large increase in export volume from previous years. Due to its large population and relatively limited fish farming activities, Brazil is currently a net importer of seafood. The domestic demand is still much bigger than Brazil can offer from their own fishing and aquaculture industry.

Source: Trade Map (2017), International Trade Centre, intracen.org.

There are virtually no exports of farmed tilapia to Europe at the moment although there were in the past. Due to the high exchange rate and strong domestic market, producers prefer to sell the tilapia locally. The exporters do export tilapia by-products. Actually, this is one of Brazil’s largest export products (18,000 tonnes). This consists mainly of tilapia skins, grates and heads which are used as inputs for collagen production for the cosmetic industry.


Last updated: 01/10/2018

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

    # Farms 7
    # Farms in assessment 0
    # CoC partners 2
    Total volume (MT) 20,800
  • Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)

    # Farms 2
    # Hatcheries 0
    # Feedmills 0
    # Factories 2

Risk assessment

Environmental risks

  • Loss of biodiversity. As aquaculture in Brazil is growing, the number of ponds is increasing, contributing to the deterioration of the natural Amazonian surroundings.
  • Water pollution. The Brazilian institutions control the pollution of the water quite intensively but the smaller farmers are particularly difficult to control.
  • Entry of diseases and waste from upstream villages and minings.
  • Erosion.

Social risks

  • Workers safety and rights on farms and in processing plants.
  • Informality and corruption in governmental institutions, lack of association.
  • Neighborhood and tribe conflicts.

Quality and supply chain risks

  • Lack of processing plants in all Amazon farming areas (breaches of cold chain).
  • Slow governmental processes at all stages (documents, permits, export certificates, etc).
  • Limited number of companies with international certifications like GlobalG.A.P., ASC, BRC and IFS.
  • Lack of experience in export (short term minded commercial approach).

Species in Brazil

Click on the species and find out more about the species in Brazil