dsc_0894Growth in western countries is likely, but the Asian nation will lead the

charge in expanding seafood consumption, executive tells attendees at the

IntraFish Seafood Investor Forum in New York City.

by Kim Tran

Aquaculture has a long developing road in front of it, but Jeroen Leffelaar, managing

director at Large Corporates Food & Agri, sees huge potential as the world demands more

food.

Of the over 500 million metric tons of global animal protein production, wild caught

seafood represents 17.7 percent while aquaculture represents 13.4 percent. About 20 million

metric tons of wild caught fish is used for feed production.

And with a growing demand for protein, aquaculture is poised to take a much larger

percentage of that pie, Leffelaar told attendees during his keynote speech at the  recent IntraFish

Seafood Investor Forum in New York.

Where that growth will come from is the question. It’s hard to see any a growth of seafood

per capita consumption over time in developed countries, such as the United States,

Australia, Japan and the EU. Japan, meanwhile, has a high preference for marine species

that do not have a farmed alternative.

 

Seafood consumption in these countries is primarily wild-caught species, which “we know

there is no further room to grow” and replacing wild species for farmed isn’t straight

forward; there are technical limitations on the farming side as only a few species can be

farmed today, he said.

Leffelaar said the outlook shows Asia and China dominating fish consumption and growth while Europe has near zero

volume growth.

“We may not agree with the outlook for North America and Europe [where there is] high

reliance on wild catch,” he said. “But in the long term, we feel aquaculture will gain

importance there.”

Another issue is that certain farmed species do not match consumer demands in developed

nations.

However, China is a different story. China accounts for 62 percent of total aquaculture

output. However, in terms of value, China is low as it farms low-value species, he said.

Although most of China still consumes mostly low value carps (45 percent) and low value

mussels (26 percent), Leffelaar feels that will gradually change.

China seafood consumption per capita tripled in the last 30 years and seafood demand is

increasing faster for high value species.

With a middle class population of 120 million, Leffelaar said there is much potential in

China as that middle class population is expected to roughly double in the next decade and

“the higher their income, the more they spend on seafood.”

Another positive with China is that “they have a strong preference for fresh-water species,

which are easy to farm.”

 

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