January 26, 2023


China's aquafeed market: As aquafeed production rises, fishmeal imports fall


An eFeedLink Hot Topic


eFeedLink statistics show that China's aquafeed production in the first three quarters of 2022 was close to 20 million tonnes, a 6.25% increase compared with the same period in 2021.


Statistics on 600 pure aquafeed plants show that the production of aquafeed expanded 8.84% year-on-year in the period, while the consumption of fishmeal increased only 5.12%.


According to customs statistics, in the first three quarters, China imported 1.4 million tonnes of fishmeal, a year-on-year decrease of 58,000 tonnes — of which high-quality Peruvian fishmeal dropped from 83,000 tonnes to 71,100 tonnes.


As for mid-to-high-end aquafeed, specialised feeds for some species have substituted Peruvian super-grade fishmeal with lower-grade Japanese and Taiwanese fishmeal. The consumption of high-end fishmeal decreased as a result.


Nevertheless, the total consumption of imported fishmeal has increased. This shows that fishmeal is irreplaceable in the production of aquafeed. However, chicken meal, a substitution for fishmeal, has also dropped in import volumes. In the first three quarters of 2022, the import of chicken meal totaled 134,000 tonnes, a drop from 175,000 tonnes in the same period in 2021.


The lack of alternative ingredients compelled producers to use fishmeal.


Meanwhile, the price of soybean meal has increased significantly in 2022 and, as such, the inclusion rates of soybean meal have been limited. Feed producers had wanted to cut soybean meal use but could not do so due to increased fishmeal prices.


The inclusion rate of soybean meal in aquafeed in the first three quarters was 17.98%, compared with 18.00% in the same period last year.


As for functional protein ingredients, their use has increased significantly in the first three quarters of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021. Corn gluten meal rose from 1.79 million tonnes to 1.95 million tonnes; soybean protein isolates increased from 1,000 tonnes to 1,250 tonnes, and soybean protein concentrate expanded from 130,000 tonnes to 160,000 tonnes.


Currently, China's low-end aquafeeds only use a small amount or no fishmeal. With a large amount of mid-range aquafeed and a small amount of high-range types, the inclusion rates of fishmeal are reduced gradually, and more producers are seeking for lower-grade fishmeal to replace premium-grade products.


With the further development of feed production technologies in China, the substitution of fishmeal will only accelerate.


- Shi Tao, eFeedLink

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