2023 Report: Fishmeal and fish oil in the EU


The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA) has recently released its 2023 study on the production of fishmeal and fish oil. This study provides an overview of the fishmeal and fish oil sectors within the EU. It serves as an update to the 2021 edition.

According to the latest EUMOFA report, fishmeal and fish oil production in the EU accounts for approximately 10-15% of global production. Annually, the EU produces between 370,000 to over 520,000 tons of fishmeal and between 120,000 to 190,000 tons of fish oil. Denmark is the leading producer in the EU, contributing 40-50% of the total production. This production is primarily based on catches of small pelagic species like sprat, sand-eels, blue whiting, and herring as well as trimmings from the fish processing industry.

The fisheries designated for fishmeal and fish oil production in the EU are regulated by quotas and the availability of raw materials depends on these quotas. The prices of European fishmeal and fish oil are closely linked to global prices, which are highly influenced by South American production, particularly in Peru. Over the past 12 years, European fish oil prices have increased on average by 181%, while fishmeal prices have risen by an average of 67%.

The consumption of fishmeal in the EU has declined by approximately 40% from 2009 to 2022, now standing at around 450,000 tons. The difference between imports and exports fluctuates yearly, depending on domestic production. Nevertheless, the EU remains a net importer of fishmeal. The three main suppliers of fishmeal to the EU are Morocco, Peru, and Iceland. As for fish oil, the three largest suppliers are Peru, Norway, and Chile. Regarding exports, the top three destinations for fishmeal are Norway, the UK, and Canada, while for fish oil, the primary destination is Norway.

Fishmeal and fish oil are primarily used in aquaculture

Marine feed ingredients are valuable but finite resources with relatively consistent production levels. A significant portion of fishmeal, typically containing 60-72% protein, is utilized as a key component in the feed for aquaculture species. Fish oil is primarily incorporated into the feed for farmed marine fish. Fishmeal and fish oil play a crucial role in aquaculture production, and there are several challenges associated with substituting them with non-marine proteins and plant-based oils in terms of feed quality, energy balance, fish health, growth, and the final product quality.

The majority of fishmeal used in aquaculture feed is in Asia. In 2021, China accounted for 41% of fishmeal usage, with other Asian countries using 28%. Europe used 10%, Latin America 13%, and the Middle East 4%. Similarly, in 2021, 39% of the fish oil used in aquaculture was consumed in Europe, 21% in Latin America, 11% in China, 8% in the Middle East, and 14% in Asia, with the remainder distributed in other regions.

Aquaculture production is steadily increasing and is expected to continue growing in the coming years. Farm-raised fish, particularly marine species, require beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in their diets to produce a final product that is as healthy as their wild counterparts. Currently, marine ingredients such as fishmeal and fish oil are the only economically viable sources of these essential fats for feed purposes. Therefore, access to omega-3 resources in fish feed is vital to meet the growing demand in aquaculture production.

EFFOP is delighted to announce that European producers play a significant role in the worldwide production of marine ingredients. This sector is a crucial contributor to the economic prosperity of European nations, ensuring the well-being of their citizens and bolstering self-reliance in the feed-food value chain.

Read the EUMOFA report online here or click here: EUMOFA Report 2023