The AquaFarm, NovelFarm and AlgaeFarm meetings brought together 120 exhibitors – one out of three from abroad – at the Pordenone Exhibition Center in Italy, on 7,000 square meters of exhibition space. For two days, 30 conferences related to the world of aquaculture and vertical farming took place. As announced, the next edition of the fair will be held on February 15 and 16, 2023. For Andrea Fabris, director of the Italian Fish Farmers Association, the conclusion is that “Italian production must be increased”.
The international events took stock of the state of the art and future prospects for food production, focusing on aquatic species farming, algae culture, controlled environment harvesting and vertical farming. These were days dedicated to technology, innovation, processes and products focused on the needs of a world in constant evolution.
The event had an epilogue on May 27, “Special Conference Day”, which featured the Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 (IYAFA) seminar, attended by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MIPAAF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the Associazione Piscicoltori Italiani (API). In addition, delegations from several Mediterranean countries were present, including Libya, Tunisia, Albania and Turkey.
Strong demand for products made in Italy
Meanwhile, Andrea Fabris, for the director of the API, the conclusion of the fair is that “Italian production must be increased”. The executive, who made a first assessment of the trade fair event held in Pordenone from May 25 to 27, said: “The participation in attending Aquafarm was a sign of restart for the sector, after almost two and a half years of sanitary restrictions related to the pandemic.”
“In the last three years, our sector has evolved by adapting to the changes imposed by the pandemic: some market perspectives have changed, for example there has been a very strong acceleration of e-commerce for some products, even niche ones,” Fabris told the Confagricoltura.it media outlet.
The strong point of the sector at present is represented by a very lively demand for products made in Italy, a trend that emerges from a market study carried out between 2020 and 2021.
“Our country, however, is far from meeting the domestic demand for seafood products,” noted the API director. Indeed, according to data from the Association obtained in market research conducted between 2020 and 2021, the demand for products manufactured in Italy is strong, but Italy currently produces only about 30% of what it consumes.
This represents just over 60,000 tons of farmed fish, a small quota, if you consider that Italy imports more than 60,000 tons a year of salmon alone and only manages to cover 20% of the consumption of sea bass and sea bream. “We only manage to export 40% of our trout production to northern Europe, destined for Germany, Austria and Poland. On the other hand, we are the world’s second largest producer of farmed sturgeon, after China, and the first in the European Union,” Fabris adds.
At the Aquafarm Exhibition, raw materials used in the circular economy were presented, such as insect meal in fish feed; also technological innovations, digitalization of companies, including for marine plants to produce food.
Among the most important developments was the microalgae sector that has wide and interesting applications, starting with the food sector for the production of innovative foods, both in agriculture for the production of fertilizers and in the treatment of urban wastewater.
The transparency operation could start in the horeca channel
Meanwhile, the director of the Italian Fish Farmers Association reflects. For him, the priority is still to support increased fish production by supporting aquaculture. “We ask for better traceability and labeling of fish products, among other things. A transparency operation that should start in the horeca channel, indicating on the menu not only the origin of the fish, but also whether it has been caught or farmed. Another fundamental chapter is to promote access to financing that could give a major boost to the development of the sector in Italy,” Fabris concluded.