Growing seafood appetite an opportunity for Australia: report

Australia is in a prime position to take advantage of the growing global demand for seafood, a new industry report has found.

Seafood is the most consumed animal protein in the world, and with an estimated 30 to 40 million tonnes of additional seafood required globally to meet consumer demand by 2030, Australia is in a ‘box seat’ to take capitalise on this opportunity, it says.

Titled Smooth Sailing for Australian Seafood, the report, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says that while Australian seafood accounts for only a small proportion of world seafood production and trade, it plays an important role globally, given the range of premium aquaculture and wild caught products produced here.

Australian animal proteins analyst Matt Costello said Australia’s reputation for producing high quality, sustainable seafood puts us in an enviable position.

“With one of the strongest reputations globally for producing high value, world class, sustainable and environmentally friendly seafood products, the Australian seafood industry is very well positioned to supply seafood hungry consumers internationally and domestically,” he said.

Growth in Asia
Asia in particular presents a strong opportunity for Australia’s industry, Costello said.

In 2014, Chinese per capita annual consumption of seafood is forecast to reach 37.7 kilograms per head, a rise of 57 percent since 2000. The global average is expected to reach just under 20 kilograms per head this year.

“Currently, most of the Chinese seafood consumption is still based on low-value domestically-raised product. But more significant is the expected growth in demand from Chinese consumers for higher-end seafood products, many of which will need to be imported.  This is a key opportunity for export-oriented aquaculture and fisheries, such as in Australia, which can supply premium items,” Costello said.

Globally, the major consumers of seafood include Korea, Norway and Japan with per capita per annum consumption in 2014 expected to reach 57.7 kilograms, 57.65 kilograms and 52.6 kilograms respectively.

Aquaculture versus wild-catch
The rise of aquaculture is also playing a significant role in driving global growth in seafood consumption, the report says, thanks to its ability to sustainably and efficiently convert feed to protein while also keeping prices affordable.

“The ability to produce more with less is going to be the challenge to the future of food production and the aquaculture sector is the most efficient converter of feed in comparison to all animal proteins,” he said.

Farmed salmon, for example, requires approximately 1.2 kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of protein, while an estimated eight kilograms of feed are required to produce one kilogram of beef.

“With wild-catch seafood production growth remaining close to stagnant over the past 15 years, global seafood production is growing through increased aquaculture,” Costello said.

“Between 1990 and 2012, wild-catch seafood production increased just eight percent.  And with rising environmental and sustainability pressures coming from all participants along the supply chain – including consumers, companies and governments – it is likely there will be no growth in wild-catch production in the future.  Assuming that wild-catch remains at current levels, it is estimated that the extra 30 to 40 million tonnes of additional seafood will be required from aquaculture to meet global demand by 2030.”

Globally, aquaculture now accounts for more than 50 percent of seafood produced for human consumption, surpassing wild-catch in 2012, the report says. However here in Australia, seafood production is still dominated by wild-catch, accounting for 87 percent of production in 2012, with aquaculture making up a relatively small, yet increasing, share of production.



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