The Rising Demand for Protein in the Aquaculture Sector
The aquaculture sector is facing a serious challenge. Rising global demand for fishmeal has primarily been caused by increased fish and livestock production. Annual fluctuations in the supply of fishmeal has resulted in price volatility. In the last 10 years, the price of fishmeal has risen by and average of 7% per year. In any given year, the price can rise by 100% or decrease by 75-50%, depending on the yield of the fish caught specifically for use in fishmeal. The international commodity price for fishmeal fluctuates between €1000-€2000 per ton.
Given the sharp rise and instability in the price of fishmeal, many fish feed producers are actively looking for ways to decrease the use of fishmeal in aquaculture. For example, whereas in the past fishmeal comprised 50% of the feed for commercially-farmed salmon, in many cases this has been decreased to 15%. Unfortunately, these types of measures are still not sufficient to meet the demand for good, reliable sources of protein.
Fish eat insects
Many species of fish require certain types of protein during different stages of their lives. For example, they adjust their diets while spawning or preparing for a long journey. In nature, a fish then eats shrimp or other crustaceans, and all types of creatures from the arthropod family to which insects also belong.
Experiments are taking place with insect meal in the food of commercially farmed fish. It appears that for some fish species a large part of the fishmeal in their current diet can be replaced by insect protein and fat as long as the nutritional values meet the dietary needs of the fish.
The demand for quality protein in the aquaculture sector is extremely high. Clear product specifications, consistent quality, stable pricing, and availability make insect meal and other such alternatives to fishmeal welcome potential feed sources for the aquaculture sector in the future.
Jan van Rijsingen