Industry proves its resilienceIFFO president Anne Mette Baek

The marine ingredients industry has proved its resilience in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to IFFO president Anne Mette Baek.

“In June 2020 the overall fishing performance of the group of countries analysed in the IFFO reports, which represent around 60% of the annual global supply of marine ingredients, was in line with the 2011-2019 average for the same month,” she said, commenting that IFFO’s estimates for the whole 2020 are, as always, based on landings in Peru, which play a major role in determining the global trend.

The expectation for the global marine ingredient market is of something slightly above the 2019 output. Global marine ingredients supply should be just short of five million tonnes of fishmeal and around one million tonnes of fish oil.

Looking to changes in future relationships between producers and buyers of marine ingredients, as a result of the health emergency, she said that traceability has been a key requirement for the industry for years since fishmeal and fish oil are internationally traded commodities which sit in a complex value chain involving a wide range of stakeholders.

“However, the requirement for tracking products – including by-products which now make one third of all marine ingredients – back to their origins is becoming stronger and is driven by consumers. We welcome the initiative taken by standards, such as MarinTrust, the leading standard for marine ingredients, to include a specific clause on traceability back to origins of the products, in the new version of its Chain of Custody standard, which will come into force in November 2020,” she said.

“The industry is complex and suffers from a lack of understanding. We have witnessed the consequences of rumours that affected the salmon sector following a Covid-19 outbreak in Beijing in June. There is a need to provide evidence-based and easy-to-understand knowledge to a wide audience, so that consumers are better able to understand what is behind the products they buy. Throughout the value chain, fishmeal and fish oil producers provide full traceability, which is reflected in a high level of certification. Over 50% of all marine ingredients produced worldwide are MarinTrust certified. We keep raising the bar higher and higher as traceability is now a key requirement,” she said.

Anne Mette Baek stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought major disruptions to well-established trade patterns and supply chains.
“Countries and regions throughout the world, such as the EU for instance, have taken the necessary steps to implement food corridors and enable flows of goods to circulate despite the barriers that were put in place to limit the spread of the virus. However, these measures mean additional paper work and alternative arrangements, that should be time bound. Globalisation has brought more choice to consumers and driven positive change throughout the supply chain, via standardisation and certification programmes, and shouldn’t be given up in the long term,” she commented.

Anne Mette Baek said that IFFO has commissioned a study to an international team of scientists on biodiversity and impacts that the industry has compared to other industries. Once the results are published in a peer reviewed magazine, which we hope will happen this year, we’ll be able to expand on its findings.

“The project has demonstrated that to replace fish protein with the current mix of animal and plant proteins would require up to 5.7 million square kilometres of new land which is about one third of the remaining world’s tropical forests, which are already heavily depleted. This gives an idea of how efficient marine protein production is in comparison to terrestrial (vegetable) protein, in terms of biodiversity impacts.”

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