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Growing global demand in fishmeal

by the Fish Site Editor
19 July 2005, at 1:00am

US - Bucking the trend in fluctuating commodity prices, the US fishmeal market has seen supplies and prices relatively stable this summer.

Growing global demand in fishmeal - US - Bucking the trend in fluctuating commodity prices, the US fishmeal market has seen supplies and prices relatively stable this summer.

In the early-90s, much of the fishmeal sold in the US constituted commodity-grade feed meant for the poultry industry. Today, fishmeal is increasingly used in the dairy industry while a special select-grade feed is given to piglets and aquatic species.

Shifts in markets, prices and technology are major factors contributing to this change.

Initially, the poultry industry saw fishmeal as just another feed ingredient. Soybean meal, amino acids and extra fat could be used to substitute fishmeal without any loss in poultry performance.

With improvements in manufacturing technology, fishmeal could be customised to meet specific livestock feed requirements in an industry where specialty meals have become more important.

In the US, for example, farmers now give fishmeal to layers to produce omega-3 or heart-healthy eggs. The US swine industry also uses fishmeal and milk powders in piglets'weaning diets. In Europe, fish oil is no longer primarily used in the hydrogenation industry but in aquaculture diets, especially for Norwegian or Chilean salmons.

Increasing concerns over the use of meat, bone and blood meals in ruminant diets have boosted demand for fishmeal. In fact, research shows that fishmeal can improve dairy cows'reproductive performance.

With its shift into specialty markets, fishmeal is no longer under the same economic pressures as other commodities. In the past, fishmeal prices tended to shadow those for soybean meal, meat and bone meal, and feather meal.

Today, fishmeal prices are about three times that of soy and the link between prices of both feed items has virtually disappeared. So even as US soybean meal prices have fluctuated with weather and diseases in the past months, fishmeal prices have remained unaffected.

Fishmeal now has to meet the demands of the global aquaculture industry's growth.

Prices for poultry meal and feather meal, however, are strengthening on the back of demand from Indonesia, where meat and bone meal in feed is gradually being phased out.

Currently, the US does not have large share of the global fishmeal market, with two manufacturers producing a mere 200,000 tonnes of menhaden fishmeal annually, compared with 6-7 million tonnes worldwide.

Source: eFeedLink - 15th July 2005

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