Seafood supply deficit possible in China due to higher feed prices

Lim Shrimp CEO Peter Fleming with shrimp aquafeed.

Rising feed prices in China are putting pressure on the supply of key exports like tilapia, as producers have grown wary due to losses incurred from these soaring input prices.

Fishmeal prices in China rose by up to 40 percent in the first half of 2023, according to industry sources.

Landy Chow, who is based in Guangzhou and manages the Chinese offices of trading firm Siam Canadian, said tilapia farmers’ break-even cost of production is about CNY 8.00 (USD 1.12, EUR 1.04) to CNY 8.40 (USD 1.17, EUR 1.09) per kilogram. Selling at CNY 7.60 (USD 1.06, EUR .98) per kilogram, which was the average mid-summer selling price, they lost money, according to Chow. This has resulted in a trickle-down effect where farmers produce fewer fish, supply has decreased, and selling prices have shot up.

Chow said rising fishmeal prices are contributing to an increase in farm-gate prices and that reducing or replacing fishmeal in feed mixes has been a popular strategy farmers have taken to control costs, likely quickening the adoption of alternative feed ingredients in China.

“The instability in supply has caused the price of fishmeal to skyrocket in China,” Xiamen University State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science Researcher Ling Cao said. “In response, the country has been advocating for and increasing the demand for cost-effective alternative ingredients.”

As their costs increase, tilapia processors are also facing weak demand from traditional export markets. Wang said some tilapia farmers have begun to ... 

Photo courtesy of Lim Shrimp

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