Responsible fishmeal and fish oil industry can look forward to a healthy future

Highlights from the IFFO 2010 Conference
November 1, 2010

Responsible fishmeal and fish oil industry can look forward to a healthy future

The fishmeal and fish oil industry must take full responsibility for demonstrating that its section of the value chain is sustainable. Then producers can look forward to a bright future where they can add value, supply their products as strategic feed ingredients and take advantage of the burgeoning market for omega-3 supplements and nutraceuticals. With these opening words at last week’s Annual Conference 2010 in Beijing of the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation (IFFO), Director General Jonathan Shepherd set the theme of Responsibility, Value and Health. 

“Taking responsibility is a ‘must’ for the industry,” said Dr Shepherd. “Chile and Peru have taken responsibility by adopting rights-based fishery management. IFFO is taking responsibility by defending the industry against the ever-changing criticisms with sound science and by forming closer links and alliances with government and the value chain. On standards we introduced the IFFO Responsible Supply certification programme (IFFO-RS) 12 months ago,” he said.

Following up on the recent news that more than 20% of global fishmeal and fish oil production capacity is already certified under the IFFO-RS, Technical Director Dr Andrew Jackson announced the extension of the Standard to include use of By-Product Raw Material as well as whole fish; and that IFFO was currently piloting a Chain of Custody addition to the Standard – to enable companies further along the supply chain to apply for IFFO-RS certification.

Peter Hajipieris of Birds Eye Iglo backed the IFFO view on responsible sourcing: “The aquaculture supply chain has to deliver key consumer needs, including responsible and safe sourcing of fishmeal.”

The IFFO-RS certification programme is based on the key elements of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Lahsen Ababouch of FAO told the conference that the world was consuming seven times as much fish and seafood now as in 1950, about half  of it from aquaculture. He said the major issues were sustainability, food safety & quality, and food security.
Turning to standards and certification, Mr Ababouch focused on the challenges for developing countries with data-deficient fisheries, on FAO field work in these countries and working with partners: “FAO and IFFO are discussing the possibility for interaction on an IFFO-RS Improvers’ Program,” said Mr Ababouch.

Dr Duncan Leadbitter of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership added: “IFFO’s proposed Improvers’ Program is based on a tried and tested approach – an independent assessment of the management improvement needs of a fishery, getting stakeholders together and agreeing on management changes. Everybody benefits – fishermen can work towards a long term income and buyers towards an assured product stream, and the environment benefits as well”.

“Aquaculture is continuing to grow and its products deliver health to human kind through its use of natural, nutritionally optimal marine feed ingredients with long chain omega-3s, notably fish oil and fishmeal,” said Dr Shepherd. “Many important health benefits are now recognised by national and international health authorities, including those to heart health and to infant brain development.”

Professor Michael Crawford of Imperial College, London focused on the brain and mental health. He said the omega-3, DHA, was essential for brain development. Its availability in marine food had contributed to the ascent of man. However the collapse of some capture fisheries now threatened the sustainability of human mental health and intelligence. His solution was a massive expansion of marine aquaculture.

Dr Shepherd told the conference that the combined first hand sales value of global fishmeal and fish oil production is approaching $10 billion per annum and outlined the potential to create and add value.

“Given the finite supply of marine ingredients, the industry is increasingly focused on the strategic use of fishmeal and fish oil at critical stages in the life cycle where they offer the greatest value to the growing animal.

“Our industry is also the main source of the healthy omega-3s, EPA and DHA, and the market is expanding rapidly with growing interest in fish proteins and amino acids as well,” he said.
Approximately 90% of commercially available EPA and DHA is derived from fish oil and IFFO works closely with the omega-3 trade association, GOED. Its Executive Director, Adam Ismail, told delegates that the value of the omega-3 supplement market in the US alone had risen from $40M in 1995 to $1000M in 2009.

 “The crude fish oil industry is transitioning from a commodity market to a value-added orientation. This means developing strategies to provide products that are uniquely suited for each use and also understanding the importance of consumer issues,” said Mr Ismail.
Ismail spoke on the final day of the conference when IFFO marked the growing importance of the fish oil market by holding IFFO’s first Fish Oil Trade Show.
Summing up the whole event, Humberto Speziani from Peru, IFFO’s President said: “Our industry has modernised - moving from ‘agri’ to ‘aqua’, from feed to health, and adapting to a changing world. We are delighted to be here in China, which is now the second economic power in the world and our largest market user.”
The Platinum Sponsor of the 2010 IFFO Annual Conference was the High-Fortune (China) Group Ltd, the Gold Sponsor was Coland Holdings Co. Ltd and the Silver Sponsor was Xiamen Henderson Commercial Co. Ltd. The Bronze Sponsors were DSM Nutritional Products Ltd, The Dupps Company, Long Resources Marine Biology Co. Ltd, Ocean-Nutrition Canada and Southern Cross Chartering.

Outlook for Asia – more formulated feed
Three sessions of the IFFO conference majored on developments in Asia. Key points included:
• “Aquaculture will continue to increase to meet global requirements and Asia will remain the dominant producer with more than 90% of production. A problem area is the direct use of low value fish as feeds. They are in limited supply and more formulated feeds are urgently needed” - Dr Geoff Allan, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, NSW Australia.
• “China’s future aquaculture will steadily increase, but change its developmental mode - meaning a transformation from “resource-intensive, scale expansion, one-sided pursuit of quantity” to “efficiency, quality, safety, & sustainability” – Professor Kangsen Mai, Ocean University of China, Qingdao.
• “Sustainability and innovation are key factors to ensure further growth and Skretting will work with the value chain to actively promote IFFO-RS or MSC certified products to be the industry standard for fishmeal and oil production” - Rik van Westendorp, Skretting, Japan & China.
• “Awareness by Chinese consumers of the importance of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is very low and intake of omega-6 fatty acids is far too high. There’s a huge potential for improving health by increasing the dietary ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats and this represents an important market opportunity” - Dr Xiaofei Zeng, China Nutrition Association.

Approximately 350 delegates plus companions from 36 countries took part in the IFFO 2010 Annual Conference in Beijing  at the end of October, The 2011 conference will be held in Lima, Peru, during October.