A report from Million Insights estimates the growth of the global aquaculture industry from 2012 to 2020, with a spotlight on several particular products.
It is recognized that aquaculture – the cultivation of aquatic species for food – is an increasing part of the global food system. In fact, seafood produced from aquaculture is expected to surpass the amount of seafood produced through capture fisheries for the first time ever this year.
One of the major reasons for growth is demand for seafood. Capture fisheries simply cannot keep up with the over 7 billion people who need protein, and production has actually fallen over time as stocks are fished to their limit. Additionally, seafood consumption is growing as consumers recognize health benefits. At the same time, suppliers are producing seafood that is easy to prepare with improved packaging and portions, making seafood more accessible to the consumer.
The 2014 report predicts freshwater aquaculture will be the fastest growing culture environment in the aquaculture industry, and expects carp to be the fastest growing species in finfish aquaculture. Carps are capable of surviving less than ideal environments, and are also used in polyculture systems, such as rice and fish farming operations. Mussels and clams are expected to experience increased demand, perhaps due to the rising awareness among consumers of their health benefits: mollusks are protein packed and sustainably grown. These bivalves are also used in polyculture systems as they are filter feeders, cleaning the water as they feed and grow.
Other aquaculture species expected to increase their share of the industry include crustaceans, salmon, sea bass, sea bream, mackerel. Some are well-established aquaculture species and have been for decades, such as salmon and mussels, but others are newer to the commercial market, such as mackerel. The Food & Agriculture Organization’s updated report on global fisheries and aquaculture is expected later this year, and will likely confirm many of these forecasts. In short, aquaculture is a billion-dollar industry that is just getting started.