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Recognising The Limits Of Marine Feed Sources


UK - EWOS looks at the challenges of meeting customers demand for cost efficient fish feeds

The global demand for seafood is increasing rapidly, and has been doing so for many years. This increase can only be satisfied by aquaculture since the supply from capture fisheries is static or declining. Farmed seafood already accounts for around half of all seafood consumed, and this proportion will increase as global populations increase and wild fish stocks tend to decrease.

Intensive fish farming relies upon fishmeal and fish oil, but the supply of these ingredients is also static or declining. This means that we have to reduce our reliance on marine resources in fish feed, and that future increases in salmon and trout production must be matched by a decrease in the use of fishmeal and oil. For EWOS, decreasing the use of marine resources and seeking substitute raw materials that maintain the health of the fish and the consumer is an essential part of our research.

The main cost of producing a unit of salmon is dependent on the price of feed and the feed conversion ratio. Salmon are highly efficient at converting feed into flesh, and the conversion ratio has been steadily decreasing over the past 10 years to roughly 1:1. During the same period of time, marine raw material prices have been volatile, and have experience unpredictable rises.

Over the past eight years the prices of fish meal has more than trippled, from about US$ 500/tonne to more than US$ 1500/ tonne. The price trend of vegetable proteins such as soy is much less dramatic. This creates an increasing potential for cost efficient substitutions of fish meal in fish feeds.

The dramatic rise and fall in prices in 2008 demonstrates the unpredictable volatility of the raw material market. Such events present EWOS with a challenge, and a need to protect our customers to a certain extent, by ironing out some of the price volatility through raw material purchasing and modifications to feed formulas.

Alternative high performance feed formulations are the focus of a great deal of research and development work, enabling EWOS to substitute rapidly when price volatility is experienced. Logistics are also called into play, ensuring that supply chains can easily be put into action. During periods when the price of marine raw materials is low, EWOS is able to incorporate a higher percentage into the feed.