Fishing For New Markets: Council Recaps Recent Aquaculture Projects

While many of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) updates take place on land, we’re headed to the water this week to take a closer look at the Council’s aquaculture work around the world. The Council is always looking for opportunities to grow the market for the commodities it represents, and the water has become another destination for member-produced value-added products.

In Mexico, examining the market potential for high protein (HiPro) distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in shrimp diets has been a top focus.

aerial view of shrimp farms in mexico
A view of shrimp farms from above in Los Mochis.

In July 2021, Patricia Esqueda and Javier Chavez, USGC marketing specialists in Mexico, visited Sinaloa (Los Mochis) and Sonora to evaluate the market potential there. Shrimp production is the most developed aquaculture activity in those areas.

As a follow-up to that trip, the Council was invited to speak at Ahome Aquaculture Union’s hybrid Aquaculture Congress in Los Mochis in December. Shrimp and fish producers from across northern Mexico gathered at the conference to hear from a variety of speakers, including Ronnie Tan, USGC regional aquaculture consultant in Southeast Asia. Tan provided participants with more information on the use of HiPro DDGS, with a focus on nutrition and performance, in shrimp aquaculture.

“The aquaculture market in Mexico is relatively small compared with Asian countries and Ecuador, which is the largest shrimp producing country in Latin America,” Esqueda said. “In the case of Mexico, aquaculture feed production represents only four percent, or 1.5 million tons, of the total balanced feed produced in our country, which is 38.9 million tons. However, the evaluation we have made of this market so far indicates it is a growing activity supported and promoted by the government and producers who are interested in exporting their product to the rest of the world, in addition to satisfying the internal demand that is growing and has yet to be fully satisfied.”

On the other side of the world, the Council’s Southeast Asia team is also working to expand DDGS use in the region’s aquaculture industry.

The office organized a large regional virtual aquaculture event, Aqua Talk, in November 2021. With a carefully curated program, the event covered many of the hot topics in aquaculture, the current threats to the industry and the solutions DDGS can provide.

Speakers addressed the current market dynamics affecting production and consumption, and the opportunities for demand moving forward. Nutritive value and benefits of DDGS in aquaculture feed were also exhibited at the event.

image of raw shrimp
Shrimp from the feeding trials conducted by the Council’s Southeast Asia office.

“There is certainly a positive buzz around the industry about DDGS,” said Caleb Wurth, USGC’s director in Southeast Asia. ”It is a relatively new product to aquaculture, but the plant-based sustainable nature and affordable nutrient qualities makes inclusion attractive.”

Prior to the end of 2021, the Council’s Southeast Asia office also concluded feeding trials that had been evaluating the use of conventional DDGS in the growth and health conditions of shrimp reared in commercial ponds. The research conducted was primarily intended to further the Council’s ability to make DDGS a staple ingredient in global shrimp production.

“It is all about getting the data out,” Wurth said. “We have assembled a strong aqua team, namely Ronnie Tan, and we will continue to drive inclusion rates higher throughout the region and globe.”

Shrimp production reached 3.9 million metric tons in 2021; the majority being produced in Asia and the Americas. The Council and its partners are taking the lead in studying and promoting the benefits of DDGS use across the aquaculture production space.

shrimp farm in morocco
An aquaculture pilot project for shrimp in Morocco.

In the Middle East and Africa region, the Council has worked closely with Moroccan and Egyptian counterparts to grow the aquaculture industries there. In a previous Global Update story, the Council went in-depth on its work taking place in the two nations. Additionally, the Council received a USDA grant to promote the development of the aquaculture industry in Morocco, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing that took place in October 2021 signaled the beginning of that project.