U.S. shipments increase 21%.

Shipments of Latin music in the United States have experienced their first growth in several years, according to mid-year numbers released today (Nov. 4) by the RIAA.

For the first six months of the year, total shipments of Latin music increased 21.5% from the same period in 2003 to 21.8 million units. Total value of shipments rose 18.2% to $289.9 million.

The charge was led by CDs. Shipments of the format rose 20% to 21.2 million units, with value up 15.9% to $277.9 million.

DVD shipments continued to explode, from 208,000 units in the first half of 2003 to 726,000 in the first half of this year.

The growth is being attributed to high-quality releases and new anti-piracy programs.

However, the gains in first-half shipments don’t make up for the losses Latin music has experienced in the past three years. Shipments of all Latin music products are still down 14.6% from the levels of three years ago, according to RIAA figures.

In a breakout by genre, 59% of product shipped in the first half was classified as regional Mexican/Tejano, 33% was pop/rock, and 8% was tropical.