Read this page carefully!
COVID-19 is still affecting shipping times for all live tilapia.
Lakeway Tilapia is the only company that offers pure strain tilapia. We are also the only hatchery that offers genuine agricultural livestock that has been graded and raised in sanitary indoor conditions. We realize that for many of our long-time customers going someplace else isn't an option. At the same time we also feel that it is necessary to give you a realistic idea of when your fish will arrive so that you can make an informed choice.
That is the purpose of this page.
There are eight issues affecting your shipping times.
1. The US Post office is no longer honoring service commitments on Priority Mail for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a link to their official statement. This adds an extra day in transit for every box of live fish and limits the number of fish-safe shipping days for half of our customers to just Monday and Tuesday.
2. FedEx is no longer flying live fish over the weekend even if the fish are already in the system. Previously, live fish would fly over the weekend if they were in the system by the close of business on Friday. This limits the fish-safe shipping days for all of our customers to just Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Keep in mind that we normally ship live fish six days per week. The two issues above limit us to just three day per week.
3. Our membrane bag manufacturer Kordon hasn't answered their phone since California went into COVID-19 lockdown and is rumored to be going out of business permanently. We are working with a manufacturer to develop our own brand of membrane bags but they are also affected by COVID-19 and working at half-speed. While we wait, we are forced to return to oxygen-inflated shipping bags for many orders which take much longer to prepare.
4. Schools are closed. School and institutional customers purchase over a million tilapia per year. These sales provide the necessary capital to employ our people and keep our prices affordable for our retail customers. Without those sales, we simply can't afford to have as many people working. Fewer people working means longer order fulfillment times. This is also why we have paused the sale of Value Tilapia.
5. Limited availability of oxygen. For those fish shipments going in oxygen-inflated shipping bags, ultra-pure and medical grade oxygen is being prioritized to hospitals. Oxygen used for welding purposes is not an option. Fortunately, for the time being relatively few orders are being shipped using this method. But as our dependence on oxygen increases so will the delays for an increasing number of customers.
6. Our box insulation manufacturer is closed. While we do manufacture our own shipping boxes, we do not make the raw materials. We have been improvising using alternatives that must be custom cut in our box shop.
7. The Post Office has restricted all access to their loading dock. We are now forced to unload our fish shipments into hampers and walk them into the front door 24 boxes at a time during retail business hours. Instead of packing until 5:00 pm we now have to stop at 3:30 pm to get there in time.
8. State Government offices are falling behind. In some cases, we are required to submit paperwork even if the customer isn't. For those orders requiring state paperwork, it will be a while before they get caught up and things return to normal.
These are the most direct issues affecting how long it will take for your fish to be delivered. Other things such as social distancing between our hatchery techs also contributes to a less efficient operation. Until all of these things can be resolved, orders are going to take longer than usual to process and ship.
Shipping statement for July
Previously stated order processing estimates have been modified due to a resurgence of corona virus cases. We originally estimated that we would be caught up by July 4th and would return to shipping within one to two business days. However, changes to the reopening plans in several states is uniquely affecting each of our hatcheries.
Orders for ungraded tilapia are processed quicker than orders for Food Grade tilapia. This is due to the limited number of people available to grade tilapia and to the rarity of the Food Grade in general. Aquaponics Grade tilapia are more common so the processing times are somewhere in the middle. Orders placed today for Food Grade will take five weeks to ship. Orders placed today for Aquaponics Grade and Pond Grade will take three weeks to ship and orders placed today for Ungraded Tilapia will ship in about ten days. If you already have an order in the queue, your order will ship sooner.
As always, our feed store is a separate operation that is generally finished packing by 2:00 pm. So if you order your food by noon eastern time it will ship the same day otherwise it will ship the following business day.