Rough ride ahead

Rough ride ahead

previous arrow
next arrow

By: The Fishmonger*

Heading into the second part of the year, the pathway forward for seafood and other protein players through the entire supply chain is going to be one of continued challenges.

Heading into the second part of the year, the pathway forward for seafood and other protein players through the entire supply chain is going to be one of the continued challenges. Rabobank, one of the leading agri-business specialists, says it will be a time of ongoing uncertainty and a time for re-thinking growth expectations and business plans.

Overall whilst, Rabobank expects global animal production to grow modestly, but higher costs and the inevitable swings in consumption patterns will cause continual change.

Elevated biosecurity risks and increasing levels of statutory requirements will impact some countries as their governments get serious about sustainability targets and move into the action phase.

Over the last few weeks, the Fishmonger, has been speaking to lots of people engaged in many sectors of the value chain and the constant thread has been how companies and people are looking at how they can do things more efficiently as the cost of living prices soar through higher interest rates, higher wages and higher charges for energy and other necessary items soar.

Rough ride ahead
Spicy Crocodile

Globally, we are in an inflation driven economic downturn and this is biting into consumers spending. Every business needs to be looking at how it will maximize their opportunities during this period.

Challenges create opportunities, be positive as you can prosper during downturns, but you need to be well organized and plan well. Seafood consumers will be looking for value for money and will likely not be treating themselves to higher quality items as much as they have.

Rabobank’s Global Strategist for Animal Protein, Justin Sherrard, was the lead author of the “Global Animal Protein Outlook – Deciding How to Grow Amid Challenges and Opportunities” said that 2022 was a year like no other and that 2023 will see a continuation of the disruptions and strife.

Justin said “Slow growth is expected in China across all species groups, and ongoing growth is expected in Brazil and Southeast Asia. Oceania will experience slow growth, while North American and European production will contract.”

Importantly, he did add that Aquaculture leads global growth across the species groups, once again, and its continuing expansion is supported by its relative independence from agricommodities prices.

“Poultry is set to maintain its consistent growth pattern, wild catch is set to expand slightly, beef production will decline slightly, and pork will see a decline.”

Specifically in relation to Aquaculture it was noted that the Outlook highlighted Fish Meal and Fish Oil – Prices of competing commodities support prices for both, which may ease slightly in 2023; Salmon – A strong retail presence will support prices in 2023, despite weakening macroeconomic fundamentals and Shrimp Supply remains strong, despite lower prices and higher costs.

Rough ride ahead
Atlantic Salmon.

Ecuador and Latin America are expected to continue driving the farmed shrimp supply in 2023.

From a retailer’s perspective, the adoption of an innovation mindset is essential in these times to help adapt to changing market requirements but ensure you take your customers with you on the journey! Show them you care and that their business is essential to you – now is not the time to be losing customers!

A few years ago, there was a report The Fishmonger recalls that highlighted waste in the seafood industry. They highlighted that seafood is essential to food and nutritional security, providing over three billion people with nearly 20% of their animal protein and it is the main source of essential nutrients for many vulnerable communities around the world with little access to alternatives. We simply cannot afford to waste it!

“The global population is increasing; seafood consumption has doubled in the last 50 years and is likely to double again by 2050. We have maximized wild fish harvests and approximately half of the seafood we eat is farmed and yet, they argue that around one third of seafood is either lost or wasted.”

The report highlighted that in some regions, much seafood loss occurs during processing when a large proportion of the fish remains unused – the skin, bones and fish heads are often discarded. Known as by- or co-products, these parts can represent between 30 to 70% of the fish.

They said that to maximize the nutrition and value of seafood for all, it is vital that 100% of the fish is utilized – and it is arguably an ethical imperative, not just an economic one.

Fish parts are discarded during processing are an important issue that all companies, associations and governments should be addressing. UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 looks to halve food loss and waste by 2030, and a new ocean action agenda put forward in 2020 by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy also identified reducing seafood loss and waste as a priority area.

Steamed Barramundi Fillet.
Steamed Barramundi Fillet.

All of us in the industry need a shared understanding of the importance of preventing seafood waste and loss – particularly in processing. This could positively impact nutritional needs and deliver greater value from each fish, and in turn reduce pressure on our aquatic ecosystems.

A first critical step is to agree widely on accepted definitions of loss and how it is measured, as ‘if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.’

Collecting and analyzing data seems to be a major gap because there is a lack of up-to-date data – or a lack of data altogether – around food loss and waste in general, according to reports. To tackle this issue, it’s essential to know where loss occurs, what types of loss (such as what parts of the fish) occur, and what the cause of loss is (for example lack of efficiency, lack of market, or difficulty maintaining quality).

An important step is to understand the losses that take place in seafood processing. Tools such as the Food Loss and Waste Protocol enable companies, countries, and cities to quantify and report on food loss and waste, providing a standardized methodology and best practices needed to close data gaps.

Cooperation and collaboration between stake-holders are also needed to increase the value of data and offset collection costs.

Sharing data on seafood loss between sectors can help support research – from processors to research institutes, and civil society organizations to government agencies. If you know from the collected data what type of by-product and how much is being produced, as well as the value it could have, it can help actors build the business case for increased utilization of by-products.

Barramundi Spicy Wings
Barramundi Spicy Wings

To improve technical expertise on ways to reduce loss and repurpose the by-products of processing, lessons learned can be shared across stakeholders – as has been done by the Iceland Ocean Cluster’s 100%.

Fish initiative, which helps connect sectors including academia and startups. Iceland Ocean Cluster also leads the knowledge-sharing tool Ocean Cluster Network and demonstrates that sharing information and coideation across sectors can help innovate the non-food uses of seafood by-products.

Specific operational improvements are also key to reducing losses – whether you are a small-scale producer or a large company. Improvements can include increased processing efficiency and better cold chain management that maintains the quality of the seafood.

“A number of innovative solutions have also been developed by very small-scale producers, for example the solar-powered freezers used by rural women in the Solomon Islands.”

In order to boost efficiency, fish processors must have the resources or capacity to upgrade their operations. This can be costly, but the investment pays off: Many companies in Europe and North America have already invested in improving operational efficiency, which often leads to a reduction in waste, and can eventually lead to greater cost effectiveness.

An analysis by the World Resources Institute on food loss and waste more broadly found a robust business case for companies, countries, and cities when food loss and waste were reduced.

Smoked Atlantic Salmon.
Smoked Atlantic Salmon.

There are environmental, social, and nutritional benefits to finding innovative ways to re-use seafood by-products discarded during processing. There could also be big economic gains too: One study on fish farming in Scotland showed that using by-products for human consumption and animal feed could generate an additional US$32 million a year.

For example, by-products can be made into fishmeal and fish oil and used in animal feed, fertilizers, and supplements to improve human health.

“Circular economy thinking is also driving other innovative uses for by products, like fish skin wallets, sports drinks, cosmetics, and biofuel. Doctors have successfully used fish skins to treat burn wounds, as fish skin is rich in collagen and moist enough to be more effective than a bandage.”

However, while by-product recovery and use are already common practices in some supply chains, they need upscaling, adapting and replicating to cover more seafood processors around the world. There also needs to be a market for it.

Multi-stakeholder collaboration can help increase demand for underutilized fish parts. Education programs about the dietary nutrition of seafood could help encourage less waste and increase the use of less popular fish parts, simply by explaining the nutritional value and ways to prepare these parts.

The organization Fair Fishing, for example, helps mainstream the idea of using less popular fish parts as “best practice” for both consumers and companies in Somaliland, finding this could simultaneously reduce seafood waste and contribute to economic development.

The winning seafood dish - need to ack WFChampionships.
The winning seafood dish – need to ack WFChampionships.

To that end, The Fishmonger recommends combating ways to minimize food waste. A good example is maximizing the use of the whole fish where and when you can.

Fish wings were something that was on menus in Darwin recently (see photo of Barramundi Spicy Wings) and they seemed to be an item people were prepared to try as an entrée. These were from Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) which is a high end species so rather than throwing out the wings after processing they have been turned into a product that has value.

Retailers can sell the product and pass on ideas for preparation and cooking. Many consumers know for ultimate health they should be consuming seafood, but few know that much about the species, preparation or cooking so consider creating some education programs for them.

Retailers could create a partnership with health-nutrition professionals and build a relationship that benefits both parties with the ultimate aim of increasing seafood consumption. Additionally, you could engage a chef to create simple recipes and have cooking session’s whit the local people. You could expand this to schools, as mentioned in the last magazine column.

“This demand is already being built on a more popular level, with civil society organizations and social media influencers collaborating to promote dishes made with less conventional seafood.”

Creative chefs are seeking to use these underutilized, typically discarded parts, championing “fin-to-gill” eating and producing cookbooks dedicated to the topic.

Seafood loss is a cross-cutting issue, and solutions that aim to use all parts of the fish, can bring a wide range of benefits. Collaboration to connect the dots between losses and unmet nutritional needs may help reduce the pressure on fisheries while increasing the total value of the whole fish.

If you want to share ideas on how we can do this do not hesitate to contact The Fishmonger. There are no bad ideas, as it’s essential to collaborate to tackle seafood loss and use 100% of the seafood we harvest from the wild or farm.

John McFadden Update – Crowned World Food Champion

We have been following the World Food Championship Final Table event right through to the grand final held in Bentonville, Arkansas, USA from May 18th to 21st , 2023 and focusing on our World Food Champion -Seafood, John McFadden and we are chuffed to report that John won through!

With the win he secured the US$100,000 check, the title of World’s Best Chef and the kudos of many!

You will recall that John worked solo right through the Competition and he continued this way in the grand final making his win even more remarkable. The odds were heavily stacked against him as competition rules allow teams to compete, disadvantaging Mr. McFadden in the three-round Final Table event.

He was competing alone, a long way from home and had to source equipment and ingredients in unfamiliar territory.

Unlike the festival atmosphere of the World Food Championships held in Dallas, the Final Table event was restricted to participants and invited guests, with the competition held under controlled conditions at the Brightwater Centre for the Study of Food, an imposing setting.

John McFadden
John McFadden

Having won the title of Best Seafood Chef at the World Food Championships last November in Dallas, Texas USA, Mr. McFadden secured his place in the top ten shootout at Brightwater. In the Final Table there were two elimination challenges.

Five chefs went home after the first challenge, and from the second challenge, only three progressed to the final. All bar John were teams of three chefs.

In the final challenge, John McFadden scored a clear win with 95 points out of 100, more than ten points clear of his rivals saying that the two courses he had to cook in the final challenge ‘matched his style’ and confidently telling the judges they were the sort of dishes he would cook for his family.

“My last challenge was to cook two courses from a five course tasting menu. My dishes were a take on ‘surf and turf ’. The first dish was prawns, scallops and chorizo, cauliflower purée, roast crab, and a prawn sauce. The second dish was seared lamb, roast heirloom carrots, spiced carrot purée, dukkha, salted yoghurt, and hazelnuts,” said the delighted McFadden.

Crowned World Food Champion, Mr. McFadden reportedly said: “Throughout the course of the challenges, I think the toughest one was the second knockout challenge set by Chef Rafael Rios. To be honest, I felt really comfortable going into the third challenge. It really suited my food style, and we all know you tend to do your best cooking when you’re in a groove. I’m astounded and tickled pink at the win.”


References and sources consulted by the author on the elaboration of this article are available under previous request to our editorial staff.

previous arrow
next arrow

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *