LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, U.S. — China is the leading global producer of aquaculture feed, Alltech said in its recently completed analysis of the aquaculture feed sector and finisher feed prices that it undertook based on industry requests.

After publishing its 2016 Global Feed Survey, Alltech was presented with more questions regarding the aquaculture sector than any other species, said Aidan Connolly, Alltech’s chief innovation officer and vice-president of corporate accounts.

“Aquaculture is the fastest growing segment of the feed industry,” he said. “According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, fish consumption now exceeds beef consumption per capita, and farmed fish now exceed wild caught. The scale of the industry is leading many policymakers to question practices and methods, particularly in regard to sustainability.”

In 2015, China led global aquaculture feed production with 17.3 million tonnes at an average cost per finisher diet of $850. Vietnam and Norway followed with 2.8 million tonnes and 1.789 million tonnes, respectively; however, the average finisher diets were much higher in cost, with Vietnam at $1,333 and Norway at $1,100.

The most expensive finisher diets originated from the Asia-Pacific region, with Korea at $1,800 and Japan at $1,700. Nearly 50% of survey responses indicated their region’s aqua finisher diets were more than $1,000 on average.

“Essentially, it comes down to imported raw materials,” said Connolly. “What is produced locally is often in a protected marketplace regulated by government tariffs. The high feed prices in this region, in particular Japan, are reflected in other species as well, such as swine and poultry.”

Shrimp accounted for 21% of aqua feed production worldwide, with 82% coming from Asia (India at 66%, Thailand at 42% and Indonesia at 33%). Salmon feed production represented 11% of total aqua feed production, and at 52%, Europe was the number one player in this species sector.

Other top species in terms of feed production include:

• Carp (China at 62%)
• Catfish (U.S. at 40%, Vietnam at 36% and Bangladesh at 35%)
• Trout (Peru at 74%)
Brazil, which finished eighth in the aqua feed survey, fed more than 25 different species of fish with its 0.940 million tonnes in 2015. Deep-bodied Amazonian breeds,
Pirapitinga, Tambaqui and Pacu, constitute most of the Brazilian fish feed production.

“We found that in Brazil, a major portion of feed production was not allocated to the typical species produced by many other countries,” said Connolly. “It turns out that over 40% of Brazil’s feed production is allocated to a variety of local, Amazonian species, such as Pacu, Tambaqui, Tambacu and Tambatinga.” 

Alltech’s overall 2016 Global Feed Survey estimated international feed tonnage is now at 995.6 million tonnes, a 2% increase over last year and a 14% increase since Alltech first published Global Feed Survey results in 2011. The analysis of five-year trends showed growth predominantly from the pig, poultry and aqua feed sectors.