Editor’s picks: The rise of pangasius


Steven Hedlund

Published on
September 8, 2010

Here’s a recap of this week’s can’t-miss SeafoodSource news stories and commentaries:

• You read it here first. SeafoodSource broke the news that U.S. seafood per-capita consumption slipped 0.2 pounds last year, totaling 15.8 pounds — a seven-year low. That it fell shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, given that shrimp and salmon imports and Alaska’s pollock catch were off last year and that the figure is contingent upon supplies of the top four species — shrimp, canned tuna, salmon and pollock (shrimp alone represents about one-quarter of the total). What may have come as a bit of a surprise is pangasius’ debut on the top 10 species list at 0.356 pounds. The popularity of the catfish-like species, farmed primarily in Vietnam, is booming worldwide. At 6.5 percent of the country’s total seafood consumption, pangasius is now Germany’s fifth most popular species, more than doubling its market share over the last two years.

• It’s been more than 10 years in the making, but the genetically modified salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies is now one step closer to being approved for human consumption in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration has preliminarily determined that GM salmon is “safe to eat,” just as safe as traditional Atlantic salmon. In just over a week, the agency will hold meetings in Rockville, Md., to present its recent findings and mull over food-labeling requirements for GM salmon. It’s a contentious issue — one that generates over-the-top, and even hysterical, responses, as SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Mike Urch explained in his “Why the worry about GM salmon?” commentary on Tuesday.

• The inaugural Asian Seafood Exposition kicked off in Hong Kong on Tuesday. One of the highlights of the three-day event, organized by SeafoodSource publisher Diversified Business Communications, was the presentation of the results of a survey analyzing consumers’ seafood-purchasing behaviors in Hong Kong and southern mainland China. Available exclusively through SeafoodSource, the survey found that the region’s consumers care most about food safety and freshness when buying seafood at both the retail and foodservice levels.

• Debate surrounding the presence of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury in fish has resurfaced in Spain. On Tuesday, SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Chris Dove took an in-depth look at how Spanish seafood importers are dealing with increased port inspections.

• With the much-publicized infectious salmon anemia outbreak seemingly under control, Chile is expected to increase its farmed salmon production from as little as 81,000 metric tons this year up to 156,000 metric tons in 2011 and 257,000 metric tons in 2012, Marine Harvest reported on Tuesday. As a result, global farmed salmon production is forecasted to grow up to 10 percent next year and 12 percent in 2012, reaching up to 1.38 million metric tons in 2011 and 1.55 million metric tons in 2012. Low supplies and high prices have buoyed the industry over the past two years.

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