Aquaculture and new trends in aquafeed for yield enhancement

Global demand for seafood reflects on increasing emphasis on aquaculture and consequently a steady rise in the requirement for aqua feed. Aquaculture is the practice of fish farming. It involves breeding, nurturing, and harvesting fish, mollusks, and various species of crustaceans and aquatic plants for commercial use. Aqua feed or commercial fish feed is a type of manufactured feed that provides balanced nutrition to mariculture fish or cultivated fish.
Fish farming is considered as one of the environmentally responsible practices of fishing that also builds and rebuilds fish stalks, develops their healthy habitats, and saves endangered species.The practice of farming seafood or aquaculture has grown exponentially over the past few decades owing to the advantages it offers. This has influenced the demand for aqua feed in most parts of the world.
Growth Opportunities for Aqua feed Industry
Growing population around the world is a good sign for the aqua feed industry as it drives the demand for farmed fish and fish products. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, wild catch cannot fulfill the rising demand for fresh and canned seafood across the world. Hence, aquaculture has to be encouraged to meet the rising demand for sea/aqua foods.This factor directly influences the production of aqua feed.
Aquafeed plays a crucial role in commercial aquaculture. These pellets and granules of fish feed are rich in nutrients required for healthy breeding of fish and other marine life,raised for commercial purposes. Since most farmed fish are carnivorous, the feed used for them is usually a combination of meat sources with vitamins, grains, cereals, and vegetable proteins. These ingredients are generously used along with the conventional ingredients, namely, fish oil and fish meal derived from fish of pelagic zones, wild catch, and non-human grade fish.
Research and Development
There is a constant demand for creativity and innovation in aquafeed production. Along with the development of new types of feed, the industry is also looking for newer raw materials highly suitable for different fish types. Hence, various manufacturers are taking a plunge into R&D activities. To put this into perspective, companies like HADAS Aqua feeds and Aller Aqua among others have invested heftily in developing nutritional solutions, laboratory studies and field analysis, and assessment of new raw materials and feed additives. In another instance, Aqua feed Farming Technology (AFT) is putting in special efforts to discover newer systems for both freshwater and saltwater species thriving in different water temperatures. Other include feed trials, analyses, and contract feed research.
Government Efforts
Governments are supporting both fish farming and aqua feed industries. A number of financial assistance programs are being introduced by governments and non-governmental bodies from developing and developed countries. These programs can boost sea farming and production of alternative feed, shellfish farming, and offshore aquaculture. They can assist in monitoring environmental issues and inspire recirculation of the systems.For instance, the solicitation for small businesses and investment in research to encourage fish farmers by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2018. In another instance, investments in animal health startups— Cryoocyte and Proteon Pharmaceuticals by the Dutch venture capital fund, Aqua-Spark.
Innovation and Creativity
Unlike conventional aquafeed, more precision and technology are incorporated to develop modern fish feed. Special attention is being provided to the factors such as the quality of raw materials, grain and fishmeal quality, and quantity of binding agents and feed enzymes.Formulated aquafeed is being carefully produced keeping in mind the advantages and disadvantages of insect meals, bacterial meals, and other such types of raw materials in fish feed. Companies like Biomar, Dibaq Aquaculture, Ridley, Alltech Inc. etc. insist on using only the high-quality protein sources to produce fish feed. The industry is encouraging the innovators developing advanced products. For instance, the Bunge and Corbion feed ingredient—Alga Prime DHA was awarded the international innovator prize at the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s competition in 2017.
Future of Aquafeed Development
High demand for sea food makes aquaculture the fastest growing sector of agriculture. Rising requirement for high-quality protein sources from developing countries is anticipated to impel the production and export of aquafeed in near future. This rapid expansion comes with its own set of problems. Maintaining functional diversity and taxonomy is the primary challenge faced by the industry manufacturers. This is mainly due to the varied complexities of life cycles of each species cultured in fish farming. This influences the compositions of feed made available for the fish in larval stage and grower stage. Hence, understanding of the digestive physiology of the aquaculture species has become a priority for the companies developing new commercial fish feed.
High focus on improving gut environment and development of new products to meet the augmenting nutritional demand can create growth opportunities for aquafeed in the forthcoming years. Advanced production technologies focusing on physical properties, and pellet stability among other variables becomes crucial for advanced manufacturing processes. Use of separate physical properties of feed for bottom dwellers and top feeding fish is a part of these processes. Packaging, distribution, and convenient storage of the feed is the top priority for the fish farmers. Marketing activities are also gaining decisive attention from feed producers to sustain the increased competition in the industry.
Based on the market research report published by Grand View Research, Inc.; the global aquafeed market is anticipated to witness steady growth in near future.
Amino acid is expected to witness the highest demand through 2022 owing rising requirement for proteins for the growth of healthy fish. Fish are incapable of producing synthesizing some of the vital amino acids. Hence, the manufacturers of aquafeed are increasingly including this product in their aquafeed products, driving the demand for the product in near future.
All in all, these are the exciting times for aquafeed and aquaculture businesses. The rise in research publications, development of alternative ingredients, and better understanding about fish life cycles are some of the crucial factors anticipated to boost the sustainable expansion of aquafeed and aquaculture in the years to come.
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by Aishwarya Vijay, Freelancer

Aishwarya Vijay is a content writer and editor. She occasionally writes for social media and technical blogs as a freelancer. She likes keeping up with recent advancements and breakthroughs in the field of different technologies.