Asking the tough questions to ensure a prosperous future for marine ingredients
by Petter Martin Johannessen, IFFO, UK
Since I joined IFFO as Director General in September, and after travelling and meeting members and stakeholders, I see great interest in developing this unique industry to meet the future nutritional needs in feed. The IFFO team is spread across three offices (London, Lima and Beijing) to engage with our largest markets, gathering data across 40 countries, leading technical projects and assisting members.
Once a year the whole team gathers together for the Annual Conference, and I was fortunate to have this early in my new role as Director General. I was previously in touch with IFFO as a member through Cargill Aqua Nutrition (also known as EWOS) and attended the conferences, and I am impressed at how the team works together organising this high-level event.
This year"s conference in Rome was a success and the bold overall aim was to question where the industry is and look at what needs to be done for sustainable development and growth for the industry.
The stage was first set with IFFO"s President Eduardo Goycoolea leading a high-level panel of industry leaders from across our supply chain to discuss the future of marine ingredients and the key challenges that we face. Discussions from the panel highlighted key themes which were then echoed by other speakers throughout the conference.
The first point that was made from across the panel, was the vital role that marine ingredients play, but the increasing challenge of population growth and resource scarcity. Árni M Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, painted a clear picture of the challenge that we face, in terms of global food security with the number of undernourished people rising to 821 million in 2017.
He noted that, with less resources, the industry must respond with more innovation. This was echoed by George Chamberlain, President of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, who called marine ingredients the gold standard, but stated that supply must be increased through new innovative sources and the increase use of by-products.
Ole Eirik Lerøy , the Chairman of the Board for Marine Harvest ASA, emphasised the importance of aquaculture in producing more food, and stated the clear reality facing his company, that they had reduced the use of marine ingredients as much as they could in their feed chain and growth would now have to come from alternative sources.
In terms of by-products, the industry has some obvious potential for growth and an IFFO-funded study, by Jackson and Newton in 2016, showed that in 2015 although roughly 66 percent of fishmeal was made from whole fish, by-products accounted for 34 percent.
There are some practical difficulties in collecting some of the raw material, and it may not be possible to achieve total recovery given the way the global seafood sector is structured, but there are certainly opportunities to achieve more with capture fisheries and aquaculture by-product.
Estimates showed that the current raw material total of approximately 20-23 million tonnes could be as high as 35 million tonnes with this additional volume. The report also indicated that as aquaculture grows, there will potentially be even more raw material available for fishmeal and fish oil production, and the decade through to 2025 could see this available volume rise as high as 45 million tonnes.
There is another angle to this as well. In terms of the salmon farming industry, a study published earlier this year, by the University of Stirling"s Institute of Aquaculture and University of Massachusetts at Boston, found that by-products in Scottish salmon farming are generally well utilised, but total by-product value output could be improved by 803 percent (£23.7 million), based on 2015 figures, adding 5.5 percent value to the salmon industry.
Segmentation of by-product will add value to the aquaculture industry and, of course, this is entirely reliant on fishmeal and fish oil as the nutritional foundation in the first place. The potential is there and it"s now up to the industry to adapt and make use of these previously wasted resources.
Examples of the new developing ingredients algal oil and single cell proteins were also presented at the conference and show promise to supplement traditional feed options and investment in this area is growing. It is going to be a combination of all these ingredients, used in a strategic manner, which will allow for further growth in aquaculture.
The next theme of discussion focused on responsible supply and social practices, in areas such as South East Asia. Much work has been done by the industry since the AP investigation back in 2014 with a range of Fishery Improvement Programmes (FIPs), and IFFO together with the GAA has funded work looking at raw material supply and fishmeal production in the region. That project is about to report, and we look forward to the recommendations that will be part of the outcome of that work.
IFFO is aware that there are some other regions of the world where there may be some scope for improving practices and in 2019, we will be looking into some of the criticisms of the sector in West Africa, for example.
As I"ve already mentioned this industry, like many others, is complex and this is mostly down to its far-reaching supply chain. This is the next theme that appeared over the conference and one that I believe is key to our success. Simply put, we need to map and engage our value chain.
As an industry we need to better understand the value drivers downstream to better predict future impacts and identify areas of growth. This is an area that I have experience in from my previous roles and one that I will focus IFFO"s efforts on.
Following on from this, the final theme focused on our responsibility to communicate the role that we play and our contribution to global food security across the value chain. Pål Korneliussen, a publisher for IntraFish Media, stated that, in general, as an industry we are understood by only a few and give little access to information to the outside world.
Our industry plays a key and unique role but at the moment only those around us know it. IFFO has been following an evidence-based approach when communicating to ensure we stick to the facts and be transparent in order to be trusted. An example of the evidence-based approach was given by Prof Brett Glencross, of the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, who gave a compelling presentation on what makes fishmeal such a special resource.
His presentation showed the clear abundance of beneficial and complementary nutritional factors in fishmeal, highlighting the high protein content as key, as well as the abundance of those essential amino acids and lipids. He also noted that it is a renewable protein source which is available globally and with a range of options as raw material.
In short, he noted that fishmeal is among the best ingredient available for absolute protein content and while there are ingredients with higher protein, they are rarely cost-competitive. We have the evidence and the story, and now as IFFO, and the wider industry, we need to tell it.