U.S. trout farmers key in on product innovation
News articles will often mention oily fish like salmon, mackerel and anchovies as good sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But trout also belongs on that list — and thus on the minds of health-conscious consumers.
Getting the message out to consumers about health benefits of trout consumption is only part of efforts to grow the U.S. industry, which also includes the debut of new value-added products this spring.
For the U.S. farmed trout industry, the outlook is good despite challenges like rising feed costs, says Randy MacMillan, past president of the U.S. Trout Farmers Association and the National Aquaculture Association. From 2010 to 2011, the value of trout sales increased 7 percent to $76.6 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year was also the first time that U.S. farmed trout sales saw a yearly increase since a pre-recession value of $87.5 million in 2007.
“The market has been able to bear the increased prices that we’ve had to institute because of feed ingredients,” says MacMillan.
But there’s only so much room for growth when it comes to U.S. rainbow trout.
“You have to have cold, clean, highly oxygenated water to grow rainbow trout, and there’s just not copious amounts of that in the United States,” says Don Riffle, executive VP of sales, marketing and global supply chain development for Clear Springs Foods in Buhl, Idaho. Much of that water can be found in Idaho’s Magic Valley, where 70 percent of U.S. rainbow trout is raised. Clear Springs, the world’s largest producer, grows 60 percent of the trout here, which it sells to foodservice buyers.