Growing aquaculture industry fueling demand for fish feed ingredients
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Growing aquaculture industry fueling demand for fish feed ingredients
31.05.24

Fishmeal and fish oil are considered the most widely used and popular feed ingredients for aquaculture as it provides all the essential nutrients needed for farmed fish, which are not available in other ingredients. 

In addition, fishmeal is a valuable source of essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, making it a preferred ingredient in animal diets. Fish oil, on the other hand, contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their health benefits.

Not surprisingly, the market for fishmeal and fish oil has witnessed steady growth in recent years, driven by increasing demand for protein-rich feed, particularly in the aquaculture sector. 

However, there are many challenges to be met in using market potential. 

Growing aquaculture industry fueling demand for fish feed ingredients

Market drivers 

There are many studies of the global fishmeal and fish oil market conducted by various relevant organizations, which sometimes provide conflicting data.

According to the most respected Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the global fishmeal trade in 2022 reached 3.7 million metric tons in volume, up 12 percent over 2021.  

In 2024, the global fishmeal and fish oil market is estimated at $8.28 billion and is expected to reach $14.55 billion by 2029, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.93 percent between 2024 and 2029, the market research company Mordor Intelligence reported.

The Asia-Pacific region is a prominent market for fishmeal and fish oil, driven by the region's large aquaculture industry, particularly in countries like China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.

In terms of production, Asia-Pacific is also a major player, with China and Peru being significant fishmeal and fish oil producers. Together, the two countries produce around 25 percent of fishmeal and more than 20 percent of fish oil production globally.

China is the world’s largest consumer of fishmeal, with around 60 percent of global consumption. The country is actively fighting for the quality of the product and offering high prices. At the same time, the reduction in catch in Peru led China to switch its attention to other exporters without reducing purchase volumes.

The Asian-Pacific countries are expected to hold the largest share of the global fishmeal and fish oil market during the upcoming years. 

Europe is also one of the largest consumers and producers of fishmeal and fish oil globally. 

Well-established aquaculture industry, particularly in countries such as Norway, Denmark and Scotland, drives the demand for fishmeal as feed for farmed fish and crustaceans. 

In addition, Europe also has a higher demand for fish oil in the food and dietary supplement sectors due to the high awareness of the health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids.

Annually, the EU produces between 370,000 and 520,000 metric tons of fishmeal, with fish oil production running fr om 120,000 to 190,000 metric tons, according to the latest report from the European Fisheries and Aquaculture Market Observatory (EUMOFA).

Denmark is the leading producer in the EU, contributing 40-50 percent of the total production.

Europe is expected to grow at the fastest pace in the global fishmeal and fish oil market during the upcoming years.

Fishmeal and fish oil markets in other regions are also promising with their own drivers. For example, the increasing government support and rising aquaculture industry are some of the primary factors driving the growth of the fishmeal and fish oil market in North America.

According to FAO, the North America fishmeal and fish oil market is estimated to grow at a substantial CAGR of 8.5 percent during the upcoming years.

The Middle East and Africa fish feed market is estimated to have grown at a CAGR of 7.6 percent over the past five years, with fishmeal and fish oil production mainly driven by factors such as population growth, rising income, and rapid urbanization, and facilitated by the steady expansion of fish production and more efficient distribution channels.

Challenges to meet

However, the fishmeal and fish oil market is facing a few challenges that stay ahead.

One of the main concerns is the sustainability of fish sources for these products, as wild-caught fish are harvested for fishmeal and fish oil production.

Fishmeal and fish oil are derived from various fish species, primarily small pelagic fish like anchovies, sardines, and herring. Overfishing and environmental issues can have a detrimental impact on fish stocks. 

According to the FAO report, to get one kilogram of fishmeal, more than 5 kilograms of small pelagics are needed. As a result, in West Africa, there is an increased pressure on small pelagic stocks, including the over-exploited sardinella, due to the expansion of the fishmeal and fish oil industry across the region. 

Another problem that needs to be addressed is the ever-increasing prices in the world markets of fishmeal and fish oil. For example, the increased demand for fishmeal and fish oil, coupled with a significant shortage in global fishmeal production, has led to a sharp rise in their cost in Europe. 

According to the EUMOFA, over the past 12 years, fish oil prices in Europe have increased by an average of 181 percent, while fishmeal prices have increased by an average of 67 percent.

Heavy dependence on the Peruvian anchovy fishery, which is the source of the majority of global fishmeal and fish oil supply, is one more challenge to meet. An unsuccessful season in Peru might cause as much as a 20 percent-decrease in the global fishmeal and fish oil output, some studies said. So the big consumers always have an eye on Peru.

Finally, many regions, including the EU, are not self-sufficient fishmeal and fish oil production. The gap is thus filled with imports. Wh ere from? 

Searching for new producers is a pressing issue. In the global fishmeal and fish oil market, generally producing regions, mainly South America, are quite far away from the major consumers located mainly in Asia and Western Europe, which makes logistical issues challenging.

 

The rapidly growing aquaculture industry is driving the global market for fishmeal and fish oil, a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years.

However, there are many challenges to using its potential. How to meet them?

On May 15-17, SEAFOOD EXPO EURASIA in Istanbul provided participants from 91 countries with the opportunity to find the answer to this question. Along with the showcasing of their products as part of the exhibition, exhibitors presented their modern methods for obtaining refined fish oil and fishmeal within the business program.

The event will continue bring together fishmeal and fish oil producers and stakeholders from around the world; those who are good acquainted with these challenges and can offer ways to meet them.

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