Catfish Fillet Shortage?

I shop at a chain grocery and buy catfish fillets from their seafood department on a weekly basis. Last Friday I was informed that they had none and “we don’t know when more will be available”. They had no idea why this was. They did have fried fillets in the deli and I was told that they come frozen while the others that were unavailable were fresh.

Any ideas why this would be the case? If there are not fresh available, eventually there will be no frozen product either.

This was predicted last year: HEA End of Year Report 2020

“Feed numbers indicate there will be less
fish available to kill next year compared
to this year. The labor shortage is also
limiting our and others’ ability to put up
frozen inventory to have to sell in spring/
summer when we expect supply to be

Another report indicates this will be a long term issue:
"Now, catfish prices are starting to take another dive, just as the cost of feed is about to go up due to this year’s drought. The latest national price average reported by USDA in May was $1.04 per pound.

For some farmers, the recent price recovery is too little, too late.

Wanda Hill, a catfish producer near Belzoni, Miss., the self-styled catfish capital of the world, estimates about half of the catfish farmers who were in business five to 10 years ago have gotten out, and she’s about to join them."

I think it will be up to consumer demand to and price tolerance to get fresh catfish readily available again.

Thanks for the quick reply and education. :smiley:

There’s a catfish farm about 120 miles west of me in central Missouri. I hope they can stay in business. There’s also an indoor shrimp farming operation about 20 miles away. I wonder if they have similar issues?

Shrimp is farmed in plenty of places in the south Pacific so it will be available. They never opened a planned indoor shrimp farm near me, not sure why. Although free from unexpected tsunamis, I’m not sure how indoor shrimp farming can compete with outdoor. It’s not like the market cares that much about fresh shrimp, frozen must outsell fresh shrimp 1000:1.

I keep an eye on the seafood business which also encompasses some freshwater fish like catfish, but I didn’t know anymore about this particular situation before you asked but fish farming is like most other farming now, the products are a commodity and highly structured around distribution and supply and demand expectations.

Is this a demand issue, or a supply issue? If the price is going down too low, then in my limited understanding of econ then that means it’s a demand issue. Is that right? If it’s a demand issue, why is there less demand for catfish?

If it’s something else, can someone explain to me like I’m 5?

I’m pretty sure competition from other countries has been driving prices down and now due to the pandemic restaurant demand has dropped off significantly.

What is this, now???

Like you don’t know.

My guess is that there is less demand for catfish. I’ve been in restaurant operations for the last 20 years, admittedly in more high end/fine diningish places. Catfish isn’t even on my radar. Frankly, most chefs I know and work with consider it a “dirty” fish. Muddy flavored, bottom feeding, etc.

More desirable, mild tasting and wild caught fish such as cod have become more popular and are fairly priced. Farm-raised fish have taken a hit as well. Bear in mind I’m expressing opinion here with very little data to support what I’m saying. Just anecdotal things from my work in the business.

We have a one acre pond with goldfish and koi. We intermittently feed them “color enhancing” fish food that is way too expensive. My gf bought a 50 pound sack of “catfish food” that was cheap, and the goldfish are loving it.

Maybe I should start farming catfish!?

Or start eating your koi.

No. No. Don’t.

Catfish farms are disgusting places.
Not as bad chicken processing plants. But bad.

We put catfish fingerlings in our pond occasionally. Mr.Wrekker likes to take the grandkids to fish down there. He wants them to be successful so they’ll like doing it. He feeds his catfish cheap dogfood. The kids think that’s hilarious.

He did fancy a catfish farm once and I kibalshed that notion.

Not pleasant to live on a catfish farm.


I still see a lot of farmed tilapia on menus.

There’s a fish store in Pittsburgh where they occasionally have live tilapia in a tank. Tilapia Ceviche is delicious!!

Then again, I’ve made ceviche with Aldi tilapia and can’t tell the difference other than the freshly killed tilapia costing 10x as much.

If I had a nickel…