This year’s IFFO Members’ Meeting was held once again in the US beachside city of Miami. A record 147 delegates attended the meeting from 23 countries, the highest number so far for a Miami meeting. IFFO’s President Eduardo Goycoolea opened the meeting, welcoming old and new friends and then led a minute silence in remembrance of Felipe Zaldivar, our past President (FEO 1979-80, 1986 and IAFMM 1989-90).
The day started with Market Forum I, which gives a global overview of the fishmeal and fish oil markets and includes country presentations by IFFO members. IFFO’s Market Research Director, Dr Enrico Bachis, kicked off the session by giving his usual projections on total marine ingredients supply, highlighting the fact that in 2018 world production could be over 5 million tonnes of fishmeal and 1 million tonnes of fish oil. In Peru, despite production in the last quarter of 2017 being almost nothing due to the high presence of juveniles, the overall production output for the year was still higher than in 2016. There was a positive performance in other regions (except South Africa) in 2017, leading to a rebound in terms of both fishmeal and fish oil with respect to the year 2016. Global production figures were aided by the recovery in the Chilean supply of fish oil along with the improved performance in countries such as Mexico, Ecuador, Iceland, Morocco, India and Vietnam, pushing overall output to the highest level (including trimmings) since the year 2011. With a strong start to the year, especially in Peru, production figures for this year are expected to reach the record levels seen in 2011. Presentations were then given from 12 individual countries, drawing the attention on the latest developments in terms of raw material availability, quantity and quality of local output and institutional environment.
The Technical Session of the Members’ Meeting in Miami commenced with an overview of current work by Dr Neil Auchterlonie, Technical Director. Neil outlined a whole series of current and planned projects that will inform the evidence-based approach of IFFO as an organisation that engages actively with many policy makers and regulators around the globe. The invited presenter, Prof. Dominique Bureau, from the University of Guelph in Canada, gave a fascinating presentation on his fish nutrition research in a career that spans over 30 years. In his “take-home” message Dom indicated that diets can be formulated with low fishmeal levels, but with this approach the other ingredients must be of very high quality to compensate for the low fishmeal inclusions. A short presentation by Allan LeBlanc of Calysta covered the technical production of a methanotroph that has the potential to supplement fishmeal in aquafeeds. An interesting point made was with regard to a probiotic effect of the two ingredients when used together in fish feed. Then followed a panel discussion, moderated by Neil, with panelists Dom Bureau, Kristoffer Lunde from Cargill Inc (USA), and Odd Eliasen from Havsbrún (Faroe Islands), with a range of questions being asked from the audience promoting a most interesting discussion on the continuing importance of fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeeds. Neil rounded off the session giving an update on the work of IFFO RS, on behalf of Francisco Aldon (Head of Operations), who unfortunately was not able to attend on this occasion. The day ended with a buffet dinner outside to give members a chance to network and meet old friends.
Wednesday started bright and early with the session being opened by the Market Forum Chairman Hans de Wit. First up was Owen Wagner from LMC who analysed the ability of G3 countries to meet increased protein demand in the face of lower protein concentration. Owen’s presentation focused on soy and the growing need for dense protein packages, with protein contents falling across most major meal categories and market growth in countries such as Argentina. Next Holtermann’s Christian Meinich took us through the latest market developments for fish oil. World stocks in 2018 are at a record low with Scandinavia fisheries starting slow in the first quarter, but expectations for Peru are higher than in 2017.
Continuing on the fish oil side, GOED’s Aldo Bernasconi gave a Omega-3 market update, stating that global growth in the omega-3 demand is accelerating, as is the demand for EPA and DHA, especially for concentrates. Looking forward, Aldo noted potential market impacts including the possible approval of omega-3 pharmaceuticals in China, a huge boost for the industry, and the VITAL study which could have negative affect on the market.
Focusing on the all-important market of Peru, MSICeres’ James Frank gave an in-depth update on the Peru fishmeal trade, noting that improved weather conditions and a strong start to the year has revitalised the market. James also noted that the recent governmental changes including a new President and new Production Minister in Peru might add uncertainty. Scoular’s Mike Cici changed focus further north to the fishmeal trade in the USA, Canada and Mexico. Mike highlighted a few issues that could influence trade, such as the USA and China goods/trade dispute, in which pork is listed, the Cooke Aquaculture salmon escape; and MSC certification of the Monterrey and Crinuda Sardine species.
The last presentation of the meeting was given by IFFO’s China Director Maggie Xu who gave fascinating insights into the China market. Maggie noted that a much reduced domestic fishmeal production have spurred an increase in imports and that there has been a shift in the feed sector from quantity to quality. Increased interest in sustainability is guiding government policy in areas such as pig farming, consumers are also starting to shift their choices to more sustainable options. As to aquaculture, the aquatic products generally enjoy good profit currently except for eel farming so should boost fishmeal/fish oil demand, should mother nature grant more predictable weather in the coming months in China.
IFFO’s Andrew Mallison closed the event, his last as Director General before he leaves IFFO in the coming months. As he leaves after 7 years of service to IFFO, Andrew noted that “the main challenge facing our industry in the coming years is how we position ourselves among the many choices becoming available for the animal feed, in particular demonstrating our key role in the long term success of aquaculture. Our industry will succeed or fail depending on its ability to define its purpose, demonstrate the benefits with science, and communicate them effectively to the whole value chain, not just its immediate customers. This is going to require vision and investment”.
Andrew went on to state that “our opportunity is to be seen as a value added, responsibly sourced, strategic ingredient, and not risk the new, heavily invested high tech competitors leaving us behind as an old fashioned ingredient suitable only for niche applications, or a commodity protein and oil source, interchangeable with others depending on price. The world needs more farmed protein and more choices of feed ingredients are essential but, certainly for aquaculture, we are the original and best, let’s not let anyone forget it.
He added that “a similar situation applies to the Omega 3 market which has become increasingly sceptical about the benefits of EPA and DHA and new sources emerge. Evidence based communications will be more important than ever. This won’t be easy as we start with the disadvantage of industry figures tending to be disbelieved, whereas much less rigorous claims from campaign groups being accepted without question. We just have to get better at telling our story and being prepared to prove it time after time.” He ended by thanking IFFO and its members for all their support during his time as Director General.