Fish marketing to highlight Tanzanian production for the Tanzanian market

Tanzania’s fish farming sector offers great potential for economic growth and providing food security. The country’s climate is ideal for farming of local species such as tilapia and African catfish. The demand for fish is rising steadily due to population growth and rising incomes.  

Yet, despite the fish market demand gap (estimated at a staggering 480,000 tons), the local fish farming sector has not managed to capture a significant part of the market. Aquaculture is responsible for around 1% (or 3,942 tons) of total fish production in Tanzania as consumer still rely on inland fisheries from Lake Victoria (85%) and marine fisheries (14%) for local fish consumption.

Currently, imported frozen fish from China forms a main competitor for local production. In 2017 alone, Tanzania imported 1,636 tons of frozen tilapia, being a 10-fold increase compared to 2014. Practically all imported tilapia comes from China. China has a very competitive industry and brings products on the market for prices which are hard to compete with. As an unpackaged product primarily sold whole in frozen form, consumers have difficulties identifying the difference between Tanzanian produced and imported fish. Yet, consumers are indicating that they are willing to pay between 1,277 TSh /kg to over 6,000 TSh /kg more for Tanzanian tilapia over imported tilapia, if they can be sure of the origin [1]. In other words, if an imported fish would be sold for 6,000 TSh/kg, it is estimated that Tanzanian customers are willing to pay 7,277 TSh/kg to 12,000 TSh/kg for Tanzanian fish.

Replacing food imports by local production is one of the key priorities of the Tanzanian government as the local aquaculture value chain creates quality jobs, economic growth, and food security. The Tanzanian government has thus taken important steps to increase production as well as limit imports to support domestic aquaculture growth.

However, as access to markets and receiving the right price for farmed fish is essential for a thriving fish farming sector, farmers themselves must also position their fish well in the market as they compete against imported fish. Branding and marketing is important for fish farmers as it will enable them to receive a better price for fresh fish. It will also allow the consumer to differentiate between fresh and imported. However, differentiation is difficult as fish is basically a commodity product.

Currently, farmers and traders lack the strategies and tools to effectively position their local fish on the market. There is much room for improvement regarding marketing & branding, both online and offline. This improvement should be based on the premise that locally produced fish for the local market should be recognizable to the consumer as such.

Both the Tanzanian and Dutch government recognize the potential of aquaculture in Tanzania. The Netherlands has been actively supporting the aquaculture industry of Tanzania since 2018. As part of this support, in 2019 the Dutch government asked Larive International in partnership with ABC Bros to develop a fish branding strategy for fish farmers and traders.

Find the Fish Branding Tanzania Marketing strategy here.

Highlights from the branding strategy

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[1] De Kruiff, T. (2019). Market research to the consumer preferences for tilapia and catfish in the Dar es Salaam region of Tanzania (Master thesis, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark). Supported by the Aquaculture Impact Cluster Tanzania.