Unused resources have the potential to feed the world

Marine ingredients play a vital role within the global food supply chain, with the majority coming from forage fish, that have a very limited direct food market, and by-products, trimmings from processed fish. Forage fish, such as Peruvian Anchovy, tend to be fragile fish that deteriorate quickly and therefore have limited storage and transport options for the food market. They tend to have a distinct strong flavour making them relatively unpalatable in comparison to other local fish and are therefore consumed in comparatively small quantities. Once processed into fishmeal and fish oil, they can be used strategically in aquatic diets to produce many more times the volume of more widely accepted and consumed fish and other animal protein in a very efficient way. The volume of production of fishmeal and fish oil from Peruvian anchovy is equivalent to the requirement of 50% of the world’s fed farmed fish production, thereby having a significant positive impact on global food security.

However, with a finite supply of forage fish, the increasing use of by-products is providing an essential additional raw material source that through the production of fishmeal and fish oil supports the increased volume of feed required for the fast growing aquaculture industry. By-products are the trimmings of fish from processing for direct human consumption, for example heads, frames, skin and tails. This material may constitute up to 70% of fish and shellfish after processing (fish fillet yield is species-dependent and is often in the range of 30 -50% of the fish). The main source of the by-product is from finfish such as white fish trimmings (pollock, cod, hake, haddock and others) as well as salmon (wild and from aquaculture), tuna, herring, mackerel and can come from wild caught fish or aquaculture processing.

This is a valuable raw material which would otherwise be unused, incurring both economic and environmental costs for disposal. As a raw material source, this material is still underutilised and it is calculated that currently around 33% of global fishmeal production and 51% of global fish oil production comes from by-product. Developing and optimising the collection and processing of this valuable source of raw material should be encouraged as much as possible.