The Appeal of Fishmeal

The role of fishmeal is changing. High prices, driven by both falling supply and rising demand, are forcing a rationalisation of users. Only those who can find a strategic or functional role for fishmeal beyond simply its high level of protein are able to pay the higher costs.

photo of hand holding fishmeal

“As fishmeal becomes a strategic ingredient, its historical correlation to alternative vegetable-based protein sources is likely to wane, as has already been the case for fish oil and vegetable oils. This would have implications for many players in both the aquaculture and wild catch industries,” says seafood analyst Gorjan Nikolik.

  • For aqua feed producers, minimising the use of fishmeal and fish oil while maintaining performance is a key success factor. The most advanced producers will have market opportunities in new regions and sectors. 
  • For the global aquaculture industry, in terms of innovation in new farmed species, only fish that require lower priced feed with a low inclusion rate of marine ingredients or fish that receive a very high price will be considered. 
  • Pelagic harvesters, especially in regions with well-managed fish stocks, may see increased valuation of their quotas. We may even see strategic investments by various players deliberately choosing to control fishmeal and fish oil production assets. 
  • Suppliers of possible future alternatives, such as micro algae-derived proteins and oils, may find a lucrative market in the aqua feed industry sooner than expected.

Fishmeal and fish oil are produced mainly from small pelagic species, such as anchovy or menhaden. Both co-products are essential ingredients in feed for terrestrial animals like chicken and hogs, as well as for fish and shrimp. High-value carnivorous fish in particular need feed with a high fishmeal content. Other species, particularly cold water species such as salmon, also need fish oil.

“Although demand is strong, supply of these marine feed ingredients is under pressure. For some, minimising the use of fishmeal will be a key success factor, while for others, investing in controlling that part of the value chain may become a strategic priority,” says Nikolik.

Find out more about the trends, developments and the changing roles of fishmeal in the aquaculture value chain in the “The Appeal of Fishmeal”.