Meeting a Global Aquaculture Demand

By Kent Swisher, Vice President, International Programs, National Renderers Association

The National Renderers Association (NRA) and World Renderers Organiza-tion (WRO) were joint sponsors at the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) Global Outlook for Aquaculture Leadership 2007 meetings in Madrid, Spain, October 30-November 2, 2007. The purpose of this sponsorship was to promote rendered animal proteins as “sustainable” alternatives to fish meal in aquatic rations. The meeting was attended by all facets of the aquaculture industry including retailers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The meeting included participants from the entire aquaculture value chain, including suppliers, producers, and buyers. Whereas animal agriculture has experienced centuries of development, aquaculture is fairly new and didn’t become a commercial reality until the mid-1900s. Nutrition in the aquatic feed industry has been limited to feeding fish meal-based rations or trash fish. Not until recently has the industry focused on finding replacements to fish meal, with two constraints leading the industry to seek alternatives.

1. Fish meal supply: Fish meal production has not increased in the last 20 years. In the last 23 years, reduction fisheries have been stable at around 23 million metric tons. Aquaculture production has grown from 2.5 million metric tons to 48 million metric tons over the same period.

2. Fish meal sustainability: NGOs and retailers have been concerned about the sustainability of the reduction industry. There is also concern by these groups because with some types of fish it can take upwards of four pounds of feed fish to yield one pound of fish from aquaculture.

Rendered animal protein meals are well-positioned to overcome these constraints. In conversations with attendees at the meeting, it was pointed out that there cannot be an ingredient more sustainable than rendered animal proteins. Also, animal proteins do not have the anti-nutritional factors that some alternatives have.

Certification Programs

Retailers and the NGO community have put pressure on the aquaculture industry to implement certification programs based upon sustainability, environmental, food safety, worker safety, and various other factors. The GAA is trying to answer this request by implementing their Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program, standards that define the most important elements of responsible aquaculture and provide quantitative guidelines and auditing procedures by which to evaluate adherence to those practices. Facilities certified in adherence to the BAP standards may use the BAP certification mark in advertising and on wholesale-level product labels. A separate mark is used for retail packaging. The BAP program is segregated into different committees that focus on different aspects of the value chain.

Of specific concern to the rendering industry is the Feed Mill Committee, of which Dr. Sergio Nates is chairman. One interesting point is that the committee is tasked with trying to present standards to limit the use of fish meal in rations. Also present on this committee are representatives from retailers, NGOs, and the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization (IFFO). It is very important that the rendering industry be represented on this committee to counter any potential attacks from the organizations mentioned above. Following is a brief report from the Feed Mill Committee.

Nates presented a preliminary draft for BAP feed mill standards. They incorporate core requirements designed to address conservation and social concerns, and also outline guidelines for processes that may vary according to the unique characteristics of individual mills.

According to the proposed standards, feed mills shall implement both documented process controls and good manufacturing practices that minimize or eliminate food safety hazards. Their hazard analysis and critical control point plans must include procedures that address risks from both chemical contamination and biological hazards.

Segregation between raw and finished products must be strictly maintained. Ingredients should be inspected and periodically tested for contaminants that can give rise to human health hazards. Accurate product labeling is another essential practice. Recall procedures must be well planned and fully documented.

As with the BAP certification standards for other types of aquaculture facilities, aqua feed mills are required to promote the conscientious use of marine proteins and oils. This is accomplished primarily through accurate labeling of feed contents and the use of substitute ingredients that can include meals and oils from terrestrial sources, fish processing waste, fishery by-catch, and other alternative nonmarine sources.

Nates shared the BAP draft with a group of feed millers in Mexico during a recent presentation. He is now surveying additional feed manufacturers for their feedback.

General Observations

There is great concern among aquaculture producers about meeting the certification standards put in place. As mentioned earlier, there is concern about finding sustainable and affordable raw materials to meet the feed demand of the growing industry.

The meeting attendees were very interested in learning about rendered products. The NRA North American Rendering brochure was widely distributed.

The IFFO views the rendering industry as a threat. It was explained to them that the rendering and fish meal industries should be working together, not against each other. Rendered protein meals and fish meal are unique in that they are not vegetable proteins. The demand is large enough for both industries to have a place in the market and still not be able to meet the total demand.

Viggo Halseth gave a presentation on “aqua feed constraints.” One important message was the constraint of “asynchronous authorizations” of feed ingredients between nations. In this regard Halseth also pointed out that meat and bone meal is being exported from the European Union (EU) to third countries where it is fed in aquatic rations and the fish exported to the EU.

Next Steps

There is obviously a niche for rendered animal products to be used as a processed feed ingredient in aquatic rations. Rendered animal products are sustainable, environmentally friendly, a good source of essential nutrients, and consistent in quantity and quality. However, they must be able to meet the demands of both the aquatic feed producer and the retailer (consumer). To meet these demands, rendered products must be able to meet the criteria of the BAP programs. As the BAP standards are being finalized, the rendering industry must remain engaged to assure that the standards are compatible with those the Animal Protein Producers Industry (APPI) has developed for the rendering industry.

On a larger scale, the industry would benefit if the WRO developed a Code of Practice for the global rendering industry, standards in which both the BAP and APPI standards are compatible with, along with being compatible with Food and Agriculture Organization feed standards as well as the Codex Alimentarius.

International Report – December 2007 RENDER | back