Utilising co-products in Europe and Asia

Richard Newton is completing his PHD as part of the SEAT project at Stirling University. His work forms a key part of the project’s Action Research approach as he investigates ways to increase utilisation (and value of) co- and by-products from the farmed species within the project. Richard’s initial investigations into the current uses and values of these products have just been published. The paper Perspectives on the utilisation of aquaculture co-product in Europe and Asia: Prospects for value addition and improved resource efficiency, is available in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Article Outline

Aquaculture has often been criticised for its environmental impacts, especially regarding the use of wild caught fish in aquafeeds. There has been little attention, however, paid to aquaculture’s contribution of co-products. These are part of the animal other than fillet, which may have value but are often under-utilised and can range from 40-70% of the total product.

This review identifies strategies to increase the value of harvested yields for three of the most important aquaculture species (salmon, shrimp and pangasius). It was found that in Europe, co-products are often underutilised due to logistical problems (eg. Disconnected value chains and perceived legislative barriers). In comparison, in Asia, most co-products are used but no to their full economic potential.

Capture fisheries have become fairly static in terms of production over the last few years but seafood from aquaculture keeps increasing and today the majority of consumed seafood is from farmed sources. Although the amount of fishmeal used in aquaculture has been relatively stable for the last 10 years, supply (and therefore price) fluctuates due environmental effects (such as El Nino events). With capture fisheries becoming more and more exploited, there is a need to maximise resources use and this is where aquaculture may provide assistance. As well as providing food for human consumption there is also potential for aquaculture to provide fishmeal and fish oil for livestock and aquafeeds.

Regional differences exist between perceived values of co-products. In Vietnam for example greater utilisation occurs.

Regional differences exist between perceived values of co-products. In Vietnam for example greater utilisation occurs.

There are many regional differences between Europe and Asia when it comes to the utilisation of co-products. These might be due to differences in eating habits, the available technology, legislation or logistics and local infrastructure. As well as human and fish food, aquaculture co-products could provide oils for biofuel or high quality leathers, collagen and gelatin. Shrimp may also provide Chitosan a compound with antimicrobial properties that can be used in wound dressings and disease resistant coatings for agriculture.

Aquaculture co-products do have several advantages over those from capture fisheries as they are more easily supplied fresh and in a more consistent form. However research is still needed to develop markets to meet their full economic potential.

Newton, R. Telfer, T & Little D. (2014). Perspectives on the utilisation of aquaculture co-product in Europe and Asia: Prospects for value addition and improved resource efficiency. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 54: 495-510. DOI:10.1080/10408398.2011.588349

Photo © Loni Hensler