Aquaculture is described as the fastest-growing area of animal food production. Especially the increase in the world population and the demand for healthy nutrition are the main factors in this growth. According to FAO data, approximately half of the fish consumed worldwide today are grown in these artificial environments. The market value of the rapidly growing aquaculture exceeds 285 billion dollars.
By Derya Yıldız
Fish takes its place in the diet as a part of cultural traditions in many regions. Fish, which has an excellent profile in terms of nutritional value, is an extremely valuable source of protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and essential micronutrients. Especially the development in the awareness of healthy nutrition and the increase in the level of economic welfare have led to the consumption habits to change and the demand for fish consumption to increase.
This change in food consumption habits has an important role in the growth of the aquaculture market. Today, aquaculture is considered an absolute necessity in meeting the food supply and demand.
MARKET SIZE AND FUTURE EXPECTATIONS
Although aquaculture has shown steady growth, it was greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019. There was a slight decrease in the sales of fish products due to the disruption of the supply chain and the decrease in out-of-home food consumption during the pandemic. However, fish consumption at home has increased and this market is expected to increase its profitability in the coming years.
According to the report “Aquaculture Market by Environment and Fish Type: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2021-2027” prepared by Allied Market Research, the size of the global aquaculture market was recorded as 285 billion 359 million dollars in 2019. The market is expected to reach a size of 378 billion 5 million dollars by 2027. In the said period, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to be around 5.8 percent.
Aquaculture is evaluated from different segments according to their environment, types, and regions. Considering the market size in terms of environment, it is seen that fresh water fish are the highest revenue-generating segment. According to the report of Allied Market Research, the fresh water segment will achieve the highest growth rate of 5.9 percent in the 2019-2027 forecast period. The marine water segment will follow with a 5.8 percent growth.
In terms of region, Asia-Pacific occupies a leading position in the market in 2019 and is expected to remain dominant in the future. Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa (LAMEA) was the second-largest market in terms of revenue generation, with almost a quarter in 2019. This region is expected to expand further with a compound annual growth rate of 5.6 percent in the 2019-2027 forecast period.
Technological developments in some countries in South America and South Africa are expected to increase the growth of the aquaculture market in LAMEA. Besides, the rapid development of infrastructure and technology in the Middle East contributes to the growth in the LAMEA market. On the contrary, weak economies in Africa hinder the growth of the aquaculture market in this region.
The expansion in aquaculture in North America has stalled in recent years but it has shown strong and continuous growth in South America, particularly in Brazil and Peru.
GLOBAL FISH SUPPLY AND CONSUMPTION
It is estimated that around 580 species are bred in fish farms all over the world. Among these species, salmon, carp, tuna, cod, trout, tilapia, catfish, eel, and halibut are the most commonly grown species, although they vary regionally.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO’s “The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020” report, global fish production, which was around 172 million tons in 2017, reached approximately 179 million tons in 2018. While 82 million tons of this production was carried out by aquaculture fishermen, the amount of fish supplied through fishing was realized as 96 million tons.
156 million tons of production in 2018 was used for direct human consumption (20.5 kg per person per year), while the remaining 22 million tons were used in fish meal and fish oil production. Aquaculture, which makes up 46 percent of the total fish production, provided 52 percent of the fish consumed by humans.
On a regional basis, Asia accounted for 34 percent of global fish production, while America accounted for 14 percent, Europe 10 percent, Africa 7 percent, and Oceania 1 percent. China, the largest fish producer in the Asian region and in the world, accounted for 35 percent of global fish production in 2018.
GLOBAL FISH FEED PRODUCTION
According to the Alltech 2021 Global Feed Survey, global fish feed production, which was 48 million tons in 2019, reached 49.4 million tons in 2020 with a growth of 3 percent. This corresponds to 4.1 percent of the global compound feed production which was 1.187,7 million tons.
In 2020, the Asia-Pacific region ranks first in fish feed production with 36.5 million tons. Although China is the largest producer in Asia-Pacific, the main growth in the region in 2020 originated from Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, and the region’s feed production increased by approximately 1 million tons compared to the previous year.
In 2020, the Asia-Pacific region is followed by Latin America with 4.9 million tons, Europe with 4.1 million tons, North America with 1.7 million tons, and Africa with 1.4 million tons in fish feed production. On a regional basis, Latin America provided the highest growth. The region increased its production by around 8 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Aquaculture is described as the fastest-growing area of animal food production. Especially the increase in the world population and the demand for healthy nutrition are the main factors in this growth. Approximately half of the fish consumed worldwide today are grown in these artificial environments.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), approximately 32 percent of the world’s natural fish stocks are over-exploited and stocks are rapidly depleted. Fish farms are considered a solution to this problem caused by overfishing. In other words, the continuity of the species, which are in danger of extinction due to many reasons, from improper fishing to climatic changes, is ensured by fish farms.
Also, it is stated that some species especially have less nutritional needs than other livestock. While some data suggest that it takes roughly half a kilo of feed to produce a kilo of farmed fish, it takes nearly two kilograms of feed to produce half a kilo of chicken, about three kilograms per half a kilogram of pork, and about seven kilograms for beef. This means producing an animal protein that can meet the needs of nine billion people by using the world’s resources much more efficiently.
TOP PROBLEMS IN AQUACULTURE
In addition to the advantages it offers, aquaculture continues to be a concern at some points. The biggest concern is pollution from fish farms. Waste feed, feces, urea, and other wastes are considered to be important environmental problems in fish farming performed both in cages/nets in open seas and closed areas such as pools, tanks.
This problem comes back to fish farms as a source of disease. Various disease cases experienced in different countries in the past years even caused the industry in the region to disappear in some fish species. In addition, antibiotics and similar drugs used for the survival of fish in these environments also cause problems.
The detection and prevention of this pollution caused by fish farms, whether in open seas or closed areas and the protection of water quality and habitat remain the most important problems for the industry. The industry is looking for ways to produce fish without spreading disease and pollution and to reduce its environmental footprint.
Another problem is what to feed the fish. Fish farms depend heavily on marine resources in terms of feed. It will be increasingly difficult for the industry to supply feed ingredients, especially fish meal and fish oil, in the long term. According to estimates, the industry uses about 70 percent of the global fishmeal supply and 90 percent of fish oil. Cereals, another feed ingredient, are also extensively used directly in human nutrition. Therefore, the use of cereals directly for feed (except by-products such as pulp) is not supported.
However, promising alternatives to this are increasing rapidly. Recently, one of the most discussed alternatives is insects. Another alternative is algae. Research in both areas is intensifying and production is becoming widespread.
Today, intensive studies continue on subjects such as breeding new species in fish farms, making production economical, feeding, increasing body resistance, vaccination and reducing the environmental footprint.
1. Is it possible to achieve sustainable growth with limited marine resources?; Dr. David Nickell, Vice President Sustainability & Business Solutions-DSM Nutritional Products, Animal Nutrition & Health; Feed & Additive Magazine Issue 2, March 2021
2. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
3. Aquaculture Market by Environment (Marine Water, Fresh Water, and Brackish Water), and Fish Type (Carps, Mollusks, Crustaceans, Mackerels, Sea Bream and Others): Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2021–2027; Allied Market Research
4. How to Farm a Better Fish; By Joel K. Bourne, Jr.; National Geographic