IFFO's Monthly Update constitutes a key communications tool for the marine ingredients industry and its main players. This report is dedicated to the needs of IFFO's members, bringing together industry news and insights from our diverse network. 


June 2020


As most countries of the Northern hemisphere are enjoying a sunny weather, it is an opportunity for people to increase their intakes of vitamin D. Few foods provide this precious vitamin and oily fish are one among the few, along with egg yolk and liver. It is well known that vitamin D plays a vital role in the immune system and in protecting against respiratory infection, as reminded by the McCarrison Society, a nutrition think tank.

3.1 billion people in the world derive 20% of their daily intake of animal protein from aquatic systems and seafood is part of a balanced and recommended diet. Vitamin D is not seafood’s only nutritional benefit. Fish also contains vitamins A and B as well as calcium and phosphorus, a great source of minerals and long chain fatty acids (omega-3s EPA and DHA). The EAT-Lancet report published in January 2019 states that aquaculture could “help steer production of animal source proteins towards reduced environmental effects and enhanced health benefits”.

Salmon is a highly nutritious product. It contains more omega-3s than most other fish. However, salmon have a very limited ability to make EPA and DHA. The concentration of EPA and DHA in their flesh is directly linked to their diet, which in the wild is rich in fish oil.

As the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) released a new sustainability report mid-May, it is of high interest to see how the levels of fish oil in farmed salmon feed have been evolving. The GSI report is very well documented and provides seven years of data on 15 key indicators (ten environmental and five social), for more than 50% of the world salmon farming industry. An increasing trend can be noted in 2019 compared with 2018 regarding the amount of fish oil used in farmed salmon feed. This is good news for consumers.

IFFO welcomes this report which acknowledges that fish oil and fishmeal remain important and strategic ingredients in salmon farming. Business strategies have led to evolving rates of inclusion of fishmeal and fish oil, but the bottom line is that fishmeal and fish oil provide an unmatched nutritional package to farmed salmon, which are then passed on to humans.

Quality feed means quality food.

Petter M.Johannessen
IFFO Director General

May 2020

Fish oil is so much more than omega3!

Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids are experiencing a growing demand in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. People want to boost their immunity systems and fish oil capsules are highly sought-after, although no robust data have emerged yet. Treatments containing fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids being trialed on COVID-19 patients are starting to make the headlines and this doesn’t come as a surprise considering the range of benefits that fish oil offers.

However, when it comes to boosting immunity against coronavirus, hasty conclusions shouldn’t be drawn right now: there is still “an insufficient body of scientific literature to connect EPA/DHA to benefits of either positive general or viral immunity outcomes in a healthy population”, as GOED, The Global Organization for EPA and DHA, underlines.

Fish oil is already highly recognised for its benefits, both for animals and humans, based not only on its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids but also on the vitamins A and D that it contains. “The omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have beneficial effects in a range of human pathologies including cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, and important roles in neural development and function” says Professor Douglas Tocher in the article that he wrote for IFFO. It is recommended that healthy adults consume a minimum of 250–500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day as part of a healthy diet. Beyond these, the benefits of using fish oil include a dietary source of energy and essential for overall good health and optimal growth. Fish oil also greatly enhances palatability of the feed – which is vital at the early stages of the fish growth.

Fish and seafood are the main sources of EPA and DHA but there is a gap: a recent study led by Helen Ann Hamilton, Ph.D., has highlighted the current human nutritional supply of EPA and DHA, which is estimated to be only 30% of the demand. Aquaculture, as the biggest user and supplier of EPA and DHA, has driven the research into new sources (microalgal biomasses and oil, and genetically modified oilseed crops). Each product may play a role, but the key point is that EPA and DHA are the main source of these long chain omega-3s at the current time. Plant-sourced shorter chain omega-3s (usually alpha-linoleic acid, ALA) are different and do not confer the same health benefits: the human body can convert ALA to EPA, but the process is inefficient (less than 5%). Marine microalgae is potentially the most important marine ingredient for supplementing fish oil supply, but as with all production processes there are environmental impacts from these processes (production is based on the use of vegetable substrates containing sugars, often sugar cane or corn, and the process requires energy inputs), that also need to be accounted for.

Petter M Johannessen

April 2020

Fishmeal is so much more than protein!

Now more than ever, health and safety has come to the fore and ranks top of the world’s agenda. Food production is a broad and multifaceted sector with a complex value chain. It bears a huge responsibility: feeding the world in a healthy way but also in a responsible way. The seafood sector’s responsibility was highlighted in the recent EAT-Lancet report, in order to achieve two goals: a healthier population and a healthier planet: “Agriculture and fisheries must not only produce enough calories to feed a growing global population but must also produce a diversity of foods that nurture human health and support environmental sustainability.”

According to the FAO, the obvious source of fish protein for human consumption in the future will be aquaculture. Fishmeal and fish oil have a special place in the necessary development of aquaculture, bringing unique qualities to the required feed supplies. They are a secure, nutritious protein to feed the world. But they are much more than protein. With fishmeal used as a feed ingredient, farmers can rely on a balanced, highly digestible and palatable product, which is to be used at strategic stages of the production cycle of animal in support of growth and health. Fishmeal contains typically 60% to 72% protein and 5% to 12% fat, which is high in the health promoting omega-3 very long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA, often referred to as 'omega-3s'. The proteins in fishmeal have excellent amino acid profiles that fit precisely the amino acid requirements for carnivorous fish species. The modern aquaculture industry would not exist in its current form without these ingredients as they meet fish nutritional requirements in a single package.

Although aquafeed is the major market, taking 65-70% of the material, fishmeal is also key ingredients for other species, including pigs (where they are used in weaning diets) poultry, and pet food.  For these other animals, fishmeal provides recognized superior nutrition. This way, they provide a direct connection between fisheries and terrestrial food production. Those nutrients provide nutritional benefits to a very wide range of consumers throughout the world and ensure that quality food is produced from quality feed.

Quality feed means quality food.

The industry’s pioneering approach back in the 2000s to create a certification platform known as IFFO RS, was instrumental in providing assurance on the quality of marine ingredients used as feeds, especially with regards to its traceability. Today, bringing more clarity to the way the industry interacts with certification schemes has become a requirement and I strongly support IFFO RS’ rebranding.

Petter Martin Johannessen

In IFFO's newsletter this month you'll learn about:

- IFFO's analysis on the reduction industry's situation amid the Covid-19 crisis
- IFFO RS' new name
- What makes fishmeal so special
- Marine ingredients have a multiplier effect

March 2020

The UK government has just announced that it would be bringing forward, by five years to 2035, the date by which combustion engines would be banned from cars. Like in many other countries, this announcement is meant to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.

We can only applaud such a proactive mindset. However, electric vehicles may be better for the air we breathe but, in terms of CO2 emissions, they can only reflect the way the electric power itself is generated and stored.

All environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life-cycle of a commercial product, process, or service should be assessed before drawing any conclusions regarding the sustainability of a product or its continuity of supply.

What is true for cars is also valid in terms of diets. As meat-free and fish-free diets increasingly make the headlines, we should try to understand the complexity of land and water management.

A new study from the Norwegian independent research institute SINTEF feeds well into this discussion. Based on an in-depth analysis of greenhouse gas emissions of different types of seafood and land-based food in Norway, the study concludes that substituting plant-based feed ingredients in fish feed with marine ingredients, such as fishmeal and fish oil, could reduce the carbon footprint from farmed fish.

Fishmeal and fish oil, as the foundation of formulated feed, pass on their nutritional benefits to humans and carry with them several decades of data and information about raw material supply, production, nutrient profile and other detail. They are a known factor in the feed industry and should be used strategically to combine health and nutrition requirements with continuity of supply.

Not only are marine ingredients more sustainable in terms of carbon footprint, they have all the essential nutrients to ensure good animal welfare, growth rate and fillet quality.

Petter M. Johannessen
IFFO Director General

Here are the articles of our March 2020 newsletter:

IFFO's vision on the industry's future
How to tackle the omega-3 gap?
Members' Meeting: safety measures & agenda
Addressing misconceptions about marine ingredients
- IFFO RS trains one of its approved certification body
- Fishery science
- Update on the IFFO RS Chain of Custody

February 2020

The main finding of an international project led by the University of Washington marks a good start of the year regarding oceans’ health. It can be read as a clear indication that positive changes can be initiated in reduction fisheries. This can be done by applying fishery science to the fisheries which don’t have appropriate forms of fisheries assessment, management, and enforcement.

On average, fish populations have been found to be in a better state than they were two decades ago, although it can vary depending on each species. The lead author, Ray Hilborn, a professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, has been compiling and analysing data from fisheries around the world for ten years and the results have just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Interestingly, the study also provides “a brief history of commercial fishing and fishery science”. The turning point came in the 1990s, when governments were put under pressure to start taking action to protect their fish stocks from collapsing. This resulted in regulations being revised and improved both in the U.S. (1996) and the EU (2002). Consequently, fishing pressure decreased and abundance recovered, proving that fishery science and management works: if a fishery is assessed, proper decisions can be made on how to sustainably manage it.

This report reinforces IFFO in believing that critical need for improvements in some regions like South East Asia and Western Africa, including the social dimensions of reduction fisheries, can be addressed and that there is room for positive changes. Outstanding problems in some fisheries are not an unavoidable law of nature. It is possible to address them provided there is a willingness to collaborate through Fishery improvement projects (FIPs) or any relevant kind of social initiatives based on fishery science.

Petter M. Johannessen

To read all articles related to the February issue, please click on the following links below:

IFFO Members' Meeting in Miami, USA
IFFO to trial novel anti-oxidants for fishmeal
Key facts and figures about the industry
Looking at the European Green Deal
New Certification Body to be added to certify against the IFFO RS programme
Managing stocks in fisheries: how does this work?
Strengthening relationships with the Thailand stakeholders