IFFO 58th Annual Conference – Day 3 summary

Day 3 started with the Market Forum 2 session, focusing on demand in fishmeal and fish oil. The session opened with Market Forum Chairman Hans de Wit and the first presentation of the session was by Christian Meinich (Partner, Chr.Holtermann ANS), who gave an update on the global fish oil trade. Starting with price, Meinich showed that fish oil prices have fluctuated due to fishing seasons in Peru and have reduced this year on average due to reliable demand volumes. Uncertainty surrounding the importation of fish oil for human consumption from Peru into the EU has increased fluctuation in prices. Meinich noted that the industry is still waiting for the final report from the EU commission regarding this and the market should stabilise once it has been published. Peru’s action plan has helped give certainty to the markets. Consumption trends are reflecting production trends, aquafeed demand is rising, particularly in Chile and Norway and demand for fish oil for nutraceuticals has also risen slightly. Regarding EPA/DHA based fish oil, Meinich noted that sufficient supplies combined with improved fatty acid profiles for the Omega 3 industry has meant that supply has matched demand. He closed by mentioning the alternatives markets, including algae and GMO vegetable oils, stating that interest continues to grow in these products.

Cargill’s Sustainability Manager Dave Robb then presented on sustainable aquaculture and how it depends on sustainable ingredients. He opened by mentioning the long term predicted pressures on the industry, with feed availability at the core. He noted that raw materials, including marine ingredients, soy and palm oil, are at the core of the debate to continue sustainable practices and growth of supply. He complemented the industries hard work in certifications and FIPs, especially IFFO RS and MSC. With soy and palm oil he highlighted the challenges of deforestation and for marine ingredients he noted the remaining challenges of IUU fishing and social issues in developing regions. Other challenges which he said are already being addressed by IFFO include ethoxyquin and plastics, and as a feed supplier he called for better publically available information to communicate to the consumer. He concluded by stating that fishmeal and fish oil are excellent ingredients but sustainability efforts need to continue to ensure the future of the industry. He called for industry to work closer together in engaging the whole value chain. IFFO’s President Eduardo Goycoolea responded to the presentation by mentioning IFFO RS’s plans to address social issues in the industry, IFFO’s upcoming project on plastics and IFFO’s upcoming communications strategy project.

Presenting an update on Peruvian fishmeal trade, James Frank (MSICeres S.A.C.) opened by looking at fishing in 2018, which was up by 27% due to the government’s decision to open the season early. Prices were high at the start of the year to reflect the Peruvian fishing season and stabilised by mid-year. Regarding antioxidants, Frank noted the market drivers behind the change in position on the use of ethoxyquin in EU, he warned that Peru should be prepared for these views to spread to other regions. In summary, Frank concluded that the industry is watching closely on whether there shall be another El Niňo but markets are currently stable and expected to remain so. Moving across to Chile, Sylvia Alonso (Commercial Director, Andes Connections SpA) presented the latest on the countries fishmeal and fish oil trade. She started by presenting that catches and quotas are both stable. Imports and exports are both regular for fish oil and fishmeal with no changes in expectations for next year, regarding exports there is growth in China and some growth in Europe. Alonso noted the challenges facing the salmon feed industry, growth is challenged by the limited feed sources and that the industry needs to continue growing responsible practices.

Over to Europe, Jon Tarlebø (Managing Director, Norsildmel) presented an update on fishmeal and fish oil trade cross the region. Tarlebø stated that production in Europe has dropped but is fairly stable and still sufficient to cover demand. The aquafeed industry will optimize the use of fishmeal depending on price, availability and market demand. Pure least cost evaluation does not seem to be the only factor determining inclusion rate. The same industry is however maintaining their focus on reducing the dependency of marine raw material. He echoed Frank by saying that the (European) market has spoken regarding ethoxyquin and will have to adapt to expectations. Tarlebø asked IFFO to look at residues in production facilities if ethoxyquin is removed from use (an issue that was also noted in Auchterlonie’s technical summary on Day 2). He also called for more information on how fishmeal and fish oil affect the health of fish and each benefit. Tarlebø concluded that the industry needs to watch the alternatives carefully and look at how marine ingredients are positioning themselves in the market.

IFFO’s China Director Maggie Xu the presented an update on the China market. Xu stated that fish landing after lifting of the fishing ban looks promising. The supply of pangasius trimmings to fishmeal processing increases. She noted that most Chinese fishmeal plants completing improvements to comply with new environmental regulations and domestic fishmeal output in China is expected to recover this year, although the operational rate of the last quarter is still an uncertain factor. The depreciation of Chinese RMB and the trade conflicts between China and USA are making marine ingredients imports more expensive, but measures to offset the negative impacts are being adopted. Xu added that the China- US trade war is also making fishmeal replacement ingredients more expensive, therefore good for fishmeal consumption. Equally supportive to fishmeal consumption is the ASF (African Swine Fever) outbreak that restricts pork importation and makes fishmeal replacement ingredients banned by the Chinese government. Xu said that consumption upgrading and dietary structure optimization is pushing fishmeal consumption from pig feed to aqua feed. She concluded by noting that aquaculture is moving from freshwater to the sea, from inshore to offshore, which supports fishmeal consumption as most of the species are carnivorous that rely on compound feed, and the new offshore farms tend to be of large volume.

The final session of the conference opened with a presentation by Liu Liangui (Deputy Secretary General, China Feed Industry Association) on regulations and standards system of China’s feed industry. China is the world’s largest feed producing country, reaching a new record this year, and the world’s largest importer of fishmeal. Liangui explained that the release of the Regulations on the Administration of Feed and Feed Additives on May 29, 1999 marked the official establishment of the Chinese feed industry regulatory system. After nearly 20 years of development, one decree from the State Council, five decrees from MOA and more than ten normative documents from MOA have been developed within the system, serving to manage the whole process of production, selling, import and export of feed and feed additives. He noted that the standardization work of China’s feed industry started in the 1980s. So far, a standard system consisting of more than 500 national standards and agriculture industrial standards has been established, covering general standards, standards for testing and determination methods, standards for feed ingredients, feed additives and feed products. Among them, standards for feed labels, hygiene standards for feeds, and standards for feed additive products are mandatory nationally, and retain the full force of technical regulations. Feed industry standards have played an important technical role in the implementation of feed regulations.  Liangui concluded by saying fishmeal is regarded highly as a feed ingredient in China, and its production and import are subjected to administrative approval.

The closing session featured two presentations from companies who are investing in the commercialisation of alternative ingredients. Jim Woodger (Global Business Lead, Corbion) first presented on algal oil sources, looking at the use of their product in the supplementation of fish oil production and supporting aquaculture development. He opened by saying that it will take a diverse group of ingredients and expertise to meet the growing demand of aquaculture, amnd hence aquafeed. Extracting data from a consumer poll, the top 5 concerns voiced on aquaculture include: responsibly farmed salmon, meeting heart healthy claims; and being the product richest ingood fats. Drawing from Biomar data, Woodger showed the projected growth of microbial and single cell ingredient sources, most notably algae to the salmon industry. Woodger presented the nutritional break down of the algae product and the closed loop production process. Norway and Chile are their primary markets for salmon feed, used to supplement, rather than replace, fish oil.  A second alternatives presentation was by Dr Larry Feinberg PhD (CEO, KnipBio), who presented a platform biotechnology for tailored nutritional solutions, discussing single cell proteins. Fermentation technologies are a key area of new innovation in feed, with a good traceability and sustainability argument to use single cell proteins. Feinberg echoed Woodger in noting that single cell proteins will be supplements and not replacements for traditional marine ingredients.

GOED’s Executive Director Ellen Schutt (Executive Director, GOED) then presented their new approaches to educating the consumer on the Omega-3 Market. Schutt first showed examples of scientific studies disproving instilled beliefs, such as a recently Harvard article on coconut oil. She noted that there are more positive than negative articles generally, but the negative headlines are often sensationalist and therefore gain more attention. She stated that GOED doesn’t have the resources to go directly to consumers but instead they are investing in consumer influencer marketing. GOED have identified health care professionals, doctors, dieticians and pharmacists as the most trusted groups for consumers. By building a database of key influences they can then distribute science based messages, tailored to each group for these key influences to then share. Schutt noted that GOED is also working closely with their members to get them to tell their story through weekly newsletters and give them useful tools to use in their own communications.  She closed the presentation by outlining the ways that GOED currently works alongside IFFO, expressing an opportunity for further collaboration.

IFFO’s Director General Petter Johannessen closed proceedings at his first conference by thanking both panellists and speakers for giving brilliant insights on all areas of the industry. Johannessen stated that the industry has some key next steps that have been highlighted through the conference discussions. He noted that the dominant message that remained consistent throughout was the industry’s need to improve how it communicates and engages with its stakeholders. Johannessen’s concluding message was “we have listened, are listening, and going forward IFFO will focus on three core areas. First, engaging our stakeholders from across the value chain, positioning marine ingredients as having the true value they have. Second, proactively communicating that true value and their unique and important role in global food production, while analysing new areas that are ready for innovation. And third, evidence based approach means that we will stick to the facts and be transparent in our activities. We have a good story to tell and it’s our responsibility as both IFFO and the wider industry to tell it”.