How the aquafeed industry is coping with coronavirus?

Feed manufacturers and ingredient suppliers have been taking the necessary measures for the safety of its employees and to best ensure the continuity of its activities, but there’s concern about the risk of feed shortage due to restrictions.

How the aquafeed industry is coping with coronavirus?
March 19, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing uncertainty in the global marketplace. Many countries have imposed strict measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus that are expected to impact seafood markets.

Feed manufacturers and ingredient suppliers have been taking the necessary measures for the safety of its employees and to best ensure the continuity of its activities. The industry is taking all the actions required to avoid disruptions in the food and feed supply chain, so as to be able to continue supplying farmers, the food industry and feed processors with the agricultural raw materials and ingredients they need.

European market

The restrictions imposed around the globe are changing consumers' consumption patterns due to a shift towards retail and home consumption of seafood. This is affecting sectors as the Norwegian salmon industry. “We know that 30% of European salmon consumption happens in restaurants, hotels and catering. For Norwegian salmon, this segment stands for 24% of total consumption. On the positive, we do see gradual steps towards normalization of exports to China,” Paul Aandahl, seafood analyst at Norwegian Seafood Council said.

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organization (SSPO) is working with the Scottish and UK governments to keep fish in the water for longer and other measures to give farmers more flexibility in dealing with these market disruptions.

The EU grains, oilseeds and feed value chain partners, FEFAC, COCERAL and FEDIOL, said that the situation is critical because the more these restrictions persist, the more the risk of shortage for food companies is likely to materialize at any level of the food, feed and livestock chain, thus challenging the European populations access to regular supplies of food.

“We call for the inclusion of feed next to food in the list of essential goods mentioned in the EU Commission Guidelines on Border Management published on March 16, 2020. Farm animals must be fed every day in order to provide key food products consumed by the population and to ensure animal health and welfare. Some member states, such as Spain, Italy and Belgium, have already included feed supplies on their list of essential goods, but we need a harmonized approach at EU level,” the statement said.

The industry associations also call on EU and national authorities to take swift action to ensure that all food and feed, even if not perishable, can be transported across the EU unhindered as long as all required health safety measures are respected.

“The EU feed industry fully accepts the need for strict containment policies at EU and Member States level to slow down the infectious COVID-19 cycle. Our priority and key mission are to protect animal health and welfare of farm animals and food supply chains for milk, meat, eggs to consumers during the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, we urge the EU Commission to recognize the status of feed as essential goods in the EU COVID-19 guidelines, which is crucial to uphold the functioning of the single market for feedstuffs to prevent supply chain disruptions and shortages of essential nutrients to the EU farm animal population,” said FEFAC president, Nick Major.

Similar situation in the U.S.

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), along with 23 state and regional feed and grain associations, called on state officials around the country to maintain access to businesses providing animal food amid proposed state plans to close “non-essential businesses” to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The plea comes after some states released response plans that excluded animal food manufacturing facilities, transportation and agricultural and non-agricultural retail establishments from their lists of “essential businesses.” In an urgent letter, the groups stated that these businesses should be reclassified because not doing so would hinder the animal food industry’s ability to continue feeding America’s livestock, poultry and pets, threaten the U.S. food supply and drive up prices for farmers, ranchers, pet owners and consumers.

“While we understand and appreciate the efforts to slow this pandemic, we also must recognize that animals must continue to have access to food and therefore, our industry must be able to manufacture, transport and sell ingredients, feed and pet food,” the association stated.