International Aquafeed - Neil Auchterlonie's monthly column - June 2019

Discussion and debate over the development of the aquafeed sector in Asia, and in China in particular, has carried increasing emphasis over time but this year several meetings and conferences I have attended have served to boldly underline and highlight this message. The 6th GFFC on the future of food and feed in Bangkok, VIV Asia in March (which included a side-session on shrimp farming hosted by International Aquafeed), and recently the Global Aquaculture Forum in Guangzhou all indicated that this region is where the real growth in aquafeed development, and also aquaculture will come. The volumes of production that are being quoted (both currently, and as targets for strategic development), are numbers which are so large it is almost impossible to comprehend. 

A recent trip to China included a visit with a couple of colleagues from the IFFO Beijing office to an IFFO member, which as a feed company was describing current production volumes in the region of 10 million tonnes, with a plan for further growth! I mention this only to highlight the volumes that are reality in the sector in China.  Although that was not a total aquafeed volume because it also included a proportion of pig and poultry feed, it is clearly a highly significant number. These are the sort of figures that will drive forward the global aquaculture industry and make it a continuing success for protein production through the 21st century, but they are not achieved without a great deal of hard work, strategic planning and technical knowledge.

On the subject of the latter point, it was pleasing to have several detailed conversations about the importance of fishmeal as a key ingredient in aquafeeds. 

It is clear that Chinese producers regard the nutritional contribution of fishmeal as key to manufacturing nutritionally complete diets for aquaculture species. It is also clear that although fishmeal inclusion rates for species such as carps and tilapia are low, fishmeal is still important and the total volume of feed for these species makes the fishmeal contribution significant. Where some very interesting developments are likely to take place are within the production of new high value species, and the adoption of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) technology, as well as the commissioning of offshore aquaculture production facilities.  All these developing scenarios require investment and focus in the production of high quality aquafeeds, feeds which will perform in markedly different aquatic environments and provide total nutrition for a range of new, often carnivorous, farmed fish species.

IFFO itself hosted a workshop on fishmeal quality in China, and what was very obvious was how the feed industry relies on the importance of this ingredient in manufacturing high quality aquafeeds. The presenters and delegates helped to provide an entertaining and informative session on why fishmeal is so highly regarded in China, and I can tell you that its future is secure in the market because those important nutritional qualities are widely recognised by those that sue the material on a daily basis, and whose livelihoods are dependent on it.

Monday, June 3, 2019