Departmental Reports


Fish Marketing in El Salvador


Parkman, Ralph, E. McCoy

Date: 1977

Funding Agency: USAID

Keywords: el salvador, marketing, fisheries, development, international

Category: International Country Report

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ln recent years, one goal of
the Fisheries
Service, Government

of El Salvador, has been to increase the availability

of fish, an inexpensive source of high quality protein, through

the promotion and extension of fishcultural practices to Salvadoran farmers. The production of
pond raised fish had

limited in part by marketing problems encountered by


A study was conducted to determine factors which influence

marketing of fish and implications of
these factors in

the development of fishculture. Emphasis was placed on

marketing in rural
areas, where
incomes were lowest·, diets

inadequate, and 60 percent of the population reside.

Municipalities with public markets were partitioned into

three categories on the basis of size. A stratified random

sample was chosen from each category. Quantitative and

qualitative information was collected through interviews with

fish vendors in public markets. Locations were visited four

times the year to detect seasonal marketing patterns.

Most fish consumed in El Salvador came from marine

sources, both industrial and artisanal. Freshwater artisanal

fisheries also contributed substantially to the total supply.

The production from fishponds was insignificant at the national

level in 1973.

Most fish were marketed through established channels of

distribution. Major cities served as centers of fish distribution

for surrounding areas.

In large cities, substantial quantities of all types of fish

were sold. Less expensive fish comprised a greater part of

sales in the small cities. Limited amounts of less expensive

fish were sold .in rural markets. Both supply and income

appeared to influence the consumption of fish.

The demand for fish in the cities absorbed a large part

of supply, thus limiting amounts available for rural areas.

Higher incomes allowed large city consumers to purchase

relatively great quantities of all types of fish. In contrast,

low incomes of rural dwellers restricted consumption to

limited quantities of cheaper types of fish.

Within rural areas, both fresh and total fish consumption

was greater in the central zone than in other zones. This

was attributed to the proximity of towns in the central zone

to major centers of fish distribution located in the large


A general trend of increased prices and sales was detected

during the weeks preceding Easter. Demand for fish increased

greatly during this period, a result of religious


An increase in fish sales in rural towns of the coastal and

northern zones was not detected during the period preceding

Easter, however. Increased demand for fish in cities

and nearby areas absorbed more of the actual supply, thus

limiting availability of fish in more distant rural towns.

Consumers paid premium prices for all freshwater species

of Cichlidae : guapotes, mojarras, and tilapias. These fish

generally sold higher than even the more preferred marine

species. The freshwater catfishes, characins, and top-water

minnows sold for prices similar to those for less preferred

marine species.

Market demand for fish in urban areas was projected at

7,651 metric tons for 1985, representing additional needs

for 4,118 metric tons over 1973 urban supply. Market demand

in rural areas was projected at 1,956 metric tons for

1985, representing additional needs for 1,077 metric tons.

In view of growing demand for fish in cities, however, supply

to rural areas may decrease in coming years.

A substantial increase in demand for fish in El Salvador

is projected for the near future. Domestic production has

not increased significantly in recent years. Trends indicate

that efforts to increase the production of fish in all sectors

should be undertaken. Large quantities of inexpensive fish

are needed to benefit low income consumers.

Fishculture can make an important contribution to future

fish supplies in El Salvador for several reasons. Pond-raised

fish are preferred over many other types. Fish can be grown

near areas of consumption, thus reducing transportation costs

and improving quality. Pond-raised fish can be economically

produced at competitive prices.

Fishculture becomes especially important when the supply

situation in rural areas is considered. Increased production

of pond- raised fish would reduce dependency of rural areas

on cities for fish supplies. Though problems con fronting

many rural inhabitants are numerous and complex, development

of fishculture represents one important way in which

conditions in rural areas may be improved.

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