IFFO reports higher fishmeal supply, but lower demand in China

A fishmeal plant.

Global fishmeal production in 2023 through March was up 36 percent year-over-year, according to IFFO – The Marine Ingredients Organization.

IFFO, which tracks fishmeal production in Peru, Chile, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, the United States, Africa, and Spain, reported improved availability of raw material, bolstered by a late start to the second fishing season in the north-central area of Peru.

Fish oil production was down 9 percent year-over-year, primarilydue to a drop in production in Iceland  and the North Atlantic region, IFFO reported.

Demand for fishmeal from Chinese aquaculture operations has decreased thus far in 2023, according to IFFO.

“Aquaculture [in China] has generally been troubled by overstock in the first quarter of this year, which not only weighed on prices but also delayed the first round of restocking,” it wrote in its monthly update to its members. “Fishmeal imports are expected to continue to be important to fill the gap in domestic supply. In Q1 2023, Peru continued to lead supplies to China, while India and Vietnam both made obvious year-on-year growth.”

China’s domestic fishmeal and fish oil production dropped in 2022 and neither is expected to bounce back in 2023, IFFO said.

“Small size and low-fat content of whole fish resulted in inferior oil yield [in China], although the oil rate of fishery byproducts remained stable,” it said. “In terms of fish oil imports, decreased fish oil output in traditional suppliers of Peru and Vietnam forced Chinese buyers to turn to other sources such as Chile, Morocco, and Malaysia.”

IFFO’s long-term forecast foresees aquaculture waste and byproducts forming a larger part of the fishmeal and fish oil input picture in coming years.

“The fast-growing ready-to-cook aquatic dish sector brings more aquaculture species from restaurants to processing plants, such as snakehead, golden pomfret, and catfish. Although byproducts thus generated are still out of scale now, they are expected to become important raw materials for fishmeal and fish oil production later. Pangasius farming is at initial stage in China now. It might be another key source of byproducts for fishmeal production in the future,” it said. “For now, though, weak global market demand and extensive losses suffered by tilapia farmers in south China in 2022 might result in considerable drop in tilapia farming volume in 2023, hence a shorter supply of byproducts for fishmeal production.”

China’s agriculture and aquaculture sectors – both major users of fishmeal and fish oil – are recovering slowly following China’s reopening of its economy following the end of its zero-Covid policy in November 2022, though consumer confidence remains low there, it said.

Photo courtesy of IFFO


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