Rabobank: Stable fishmeal outlook with new sources, more supply

Recovery in the industry will stabilize prices and maintain high demand in aquaculture.

The end of El Nino in Peru and Chile and a surge in alternative sources for fishmeal production will add an extra one million metric tons to the current high value protein supply by 2022, Gorjan Nikolik, associate director at Rabobank, said at last week’s North Atlantic Seafood Forum (NASF) in Bergen, Norway.

Peru -- the world's largest single supplier of fishmeal -- and Chile contributed largely to a decrease of 2 million metric tons -- or one third of total fishmeal output -- over the last two decades, but the trend is not expected to continue this year, Nikolik said.

Currently, the need for fishmeal and other high value protein for formulated feed in the seafood industry is increasing as intensive aquaculture methods are put in place even for species historically farmed extensively, attracting a number of R&D programs to the field.

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The many alternatives in which companies are investing include algae, krill, yeast based ingredients, insect feed, single cell proteins and even farmed fish to be used for this purpose.

In the period between 2014 and 2016, Peru and Chile fishmeal production accounted for 900,000 metric tons a year approximately. According to Nikolik, the normalization of weather temperatures will bring around 500,000 additional metric tons a year from this region through 2019.

In addition, taking into account the many investments companies are making in feed alternatives, these sources could add an additional 500,000 metric tons of high value protein to the fishmeal industry by 2022, he said.

This added to production by the rest of the industry, which amounts to 3 million metric tons to 3.5 million metric tons from trimmings or wild pelagic catch, would put availability of fishmeal at 5.4 million metric tons approximately at global levels.

“This is an increase, but it is not that much in the short term,” Nikolik said. “Stable prices could drive back demand of marine ingredients and maintain it.”

This way prices of fishmeal will continue between $1,200 (€1,128) and $1,600 (€1,504) metric tons in the medium term, ensuring aquaculture reliance on feed ingredients that will be supported by other successful sources.

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