The raising of fish and seafood, known as aquaculture, has been a way of food production for generations. Now a growing global population is putting more demands on protein production — both animal and plant. Sustainable aquaculture could play a significant role in meeting this need.
Historically, the aquaculture industry has used fish- and animal-based sources for feed. This includes fishmeal, fish oil and even manure in some countries. Over the past two decades, the aquaculture industry has turned to using formulated feed that’s better for the environment and more efficient. Soybeans are now an important ingredient used in these feeds, and this is thanks to solutions that came from the involvement of U.S. Soy.
Providing a Premier Feed Ingredient
Just like hogs, poultry and other livestock, fish and seafood benefit from feed that includes quality ingredients such as those offered by U.S. Soy. Soybeans provide animals and fish with protein, energy and amino acids that are essential for growth. In addition, U.S. Soy has increased digestibility, meaning the fish are absorbing and using more of the nutrients in soy-based feed. Not only does U.S. Soy deliver optimal performance and profitability for producers around the world, but U.S. Soy is also verified to be sustainable.
Sharing Sustainable Aquaculture Systems
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aquaculture is the fastest-growing segment of the feed industry. Aquaculture production is expected to grow to 109 million metric tons by 2030, an increase of 32% compared with 2018. In 2021, livestock consumed 33.1 million metric tons of soybean meal. Of that, .5 percent or .2 million metric tons went to aquaculture. New technologies will be needed to help aquaculture producers scale up sustainably. Through the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), U.S. Soy is supporting the global aquaculture industry with the development and implementation of In-Pond Raceway System (IPRS) Aquaculture Technology.
IPRS improves the efficiency and sustainability of aquaculture through better use of water, land, energy and labor. This system keeps fish that are being fed in a specific area of a pond, circulating water through this area. When used correctly, IPRS leads to more intensive, controllable and measurable production with safer and higher-quality fish. Globally, nearly 9,000 IPR systems have been installed.
Meeting a Fast-Growing Population’s Needs
Most aquaculture production is in Asia, but significant growth is expected in areas like Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Growth in these emerging markets is critical as aquaculture can help meet growing global nutritional needs as an affordable and sustainable means of rapidly grown protein. Increasing protein is especially important as the global population is growing and this increasing population is demanding more protein from both plant and animal sources.
The U.S. Soy industry is committed to working with aquaculture producers in established and emerging markets. Through driving innovation, such as IPRS, U.S. Soy will continue to support an industry that is rapidly growing into a primary provider of animal protein to meet expanding global nutrition needs.