Market size and product form are two important aspects of an aquaculture product. Market size varies according to consumer preferences. Each successive degree of fish processing results in different product forms. Regardless of the product form you choose to offer, it is important to establish and maintain a reputation as a reliable supplier of high-quality products.
Fish may be sold to live haulers who sell to fee-fishing lakes and farm ponds or to consumers who dress them for home consumption.
Fish in the Round
Fish are put on ice and sold just as they came out of the water.
Fish with their entrails removed.
Fish are completely clean but with the head intact.
Headed and Gutted
Fish with their head and entrails removed. Fins and tails may be removed or left intact. Depending on the species, the skin and scales may be removed. Species such as trout may be sold with the scales and head on but the gills removed.
Large dressed fish cut into cross section containing only the backbone. Chunks are similar to pork or beef roasts.
Large dressed fish cut in cross section around one inch thick.
The belly flap after it is cut free from the fillet.
Butterfly fillets are the two skin-on flank fillets held together by the skin on the dorsal side. Trout and yellow perch are often sold as butterfly fillets.
Flank fillets are boneless pieces of fish originating from the two sides of the fish. Fillet size usually ranges from 4-8 oz.
Dressed fish with only the ribs and backbone removed.
Smoked fish cooked at a temperature of 250-300oF for a period of 4-5 hours.
Smoked fish dried at temperatures never exceeding 90oF from 1 day to several weeks.
How much should you charge for your product? Real-life implementation of this seemingly simple calculation is not so easy. To determine the price, you should consider the following: product, customers, competitiveness, and quality. We will use catfish and shrimp as examples for determining a price.
Channel catfish is the most commonly produced food fish in the United States. After years of improved management, the price for channel catfish is becoming competitive with less expensive forms of animal protein.
Channel catfish is very versatile and is sold in many forms.
Even though channel catfish has historically been an inexpensive product found in family-style restaurants, with increased generic marketing channel catfish are becoming more common in upscale restaurants.
Channel catfish is the most commonly produced food fish in the United States. One reason for channel catfish's popularity is its consistency and versatility.
Channel catfish must compete with a variety of inexpensive seafood products. In addition catfish compete with other forms of animal proteins, such as poultry.
All seafood is a very high-quality source of protein sold either fresh or frozen. Catfish is relatively high in protein and low in saturated fats. In a 3.5 ounce serving, channel catfish has only 116 calories, 18.2 grams of protein, and only 4.3 grams of fat.
Shrimp is one of the most popular seafood items consumed in the United States. Shrimp is marketed to more affluent consumers.
The most common product form for shrimp is tail meat with the shell removed. Shrimp sold this way can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Shrimp are marketed primarily to more affluent customers and upscale restaurants.
Shrimp products must compete with more expensive seafood, such as fresh tuna, swordfish, and lobster. Shrimp also competes with more expensive cuts of beef, such as rib-eye steak and filet mignon.
Shrimp is also a high-quality protein source that is sold either fresh or frozen. Shrimp is high in protein and low in saturated fats. In a 3.5-ounce serving, shrimp has only between 90-95 calories, 18-20 grams of protein, and no more than 1 gram of fat.
The following pricing strategies outline common methods used to determine the
price of your product.
Pricing structure that adds a constant percentage of profit above the cost of producing a product. Difficulties are encountered in accurately assessing fixed and variable costs.
Competitive is the simplest and the most common in niche marketing. Price is based on prices of competing products.
Skimming involves the introduction of a product at a high price for affluent consumers and then the price is decreased as the market becomes saturated.
Discount pricing is based on a reduction in the advertised price. A coupon is an example of a discounted price.
Loss-leader is pricing to attract new customers. It is based on an initial price lower than the production cost with price increases as the product becomes established in the market.
Psychological pricing is based on a price that looks better. For example $4.99/lb instead of $5.00/lb
Perceived-value pricing is based on non-price factors such as quality, healthfulness, or prestige.
Products are promoted to create new customers. Promotion requires time that should be an integral part of your business plan. Promotion should be clear, to the point, and focused.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth depends on satisfied customers telling their friends about the quality of your products.
Radio advertisements are relatively inexpensive ways to inform potential customers about your business. Mid-to-late week is the best time to run your radio ad.
Printed materials, including newspapers, magazines, and flyers, allow you to explain the what, when, where, and why people should buy from you.
Generic promotion examples are a state aquaculture association; a state department of agriculture, who develop generic promotional campaigns for state-grown products; or large marketing groups, such as the Catfish Institute.
There are many places where you can sell your products. Farmers may sell their products directly to the consumer or to other businesses which then sell them to consumers.
Direct retail sales are a good place to start if supplies are small or availability uncertain. There are four categories of direct retail sales: farmside sales, farmer's markets, roadside stands, and fee-fishing.
Farm-side sales are excellent if the farm is located within a short distance of urban areas.
Weekly farmer's markets are a great place to sell fish in conjunction with other farm produce. Fish are usually held live in tanks.
Roadside stands are often used to capture a percentage of the traffic flow along busy highways.
Fee-fishing businesses buy fish from producers and then charge customers to catch the fish from fee-fishing ponds.
Depending on your species and supply situation, direct wholesaling may be an excellent way to market your product. Most wholesale customers have a strong preference for steady, year-round supplies. It is not necessary to travel great distances to large cities to market your product. Think locally and look for the markets within a 50-mile radius of your farm.
Live haulers can be used if the producer does not own a hauling tank. Live haulers sell fish to retail or wholesale outlets.
Restaurants like to have small quantities delivered one to three times every week. Restaurant chefs often require a processed product.
Supermarkets are a good place to sell large volumes of aquaculture products. Deliveries are usually made one to two times every week and the product is most often processed.
Ethnic groceries and health-food stores are often overlooked markets. Ethnic markets often prefer the fish to be live, in the round, or drawn.