THE value of global fisheries is on course to hit an all-time high this year, driven in part by farmed salmon sales, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
International trade in fish is expected to rise to more than $150 billion in 2017, up about seven per cent on 2016, and ahead of the previous record of $149 billion in 2014, the Financial Times reported yesterday.
Fish has been the largest traded food commodity, supported by the growth in aquaculture, which has been the fastest growing food production sector over the past 20 years.
Rising incomes in developing countries have spurred greater consumption of meat and fish, and there has been sustained demand from traditional import markets such as the US, Japan, France and Spain.
Salmon producers have generated total shareholder returns of 45 to 60 per cent since 2012, according to calculations from the Boston Consulting Group.
Marine Harvest, the largest salmon producer, generated average annual total shareholder returns of 47 per cent during the five years to 2016. This compares with the protein sector’s 17 per cent return and seven per cent for the whole agricultural sector, said BCG.
Such returns have prompted agricultural companies to push into fish production. The US firm Cargill bought Norwegian fish feed supplier Ewos for €1.35 billion two years ago, while Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi paid $1.4 billion for Norwegian salmon farmer Cermaq.
Fish production is expected to continue to grow thanks to fish farming, according to the FAO. The global aquaculture market is expected to continue growing at four to five per cent a year over the next decade, with global farmed fish production forecast to expand a third by 2026.
‘Global aquaculture production is anticipated to exceed the 100 million tonne mark for the first time in 2025 and to reach 102 million tonnes by 2026,’ said the organisation.
However, BCG analysts said companies must also address mounting consumer concerns over the environmental impact of fish farming ‘to enable long-term sustainability’.