High demand for salmon will drive development of land-based farming

The coming five years we will see an increase in fish farms using recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Especially for farming salmon – a species in high demand from consumers worldwide.

Rabobank predicts a production of around 100.000 tons of land-based salmon within the next five years. Over the next ten years we can expect volumes around 250.000 tons.

“Salmon is the winning protein. Right now, the growth rate of demand is higher than supply. It is easy to make different products from this species, and it fits into most cultures and cuisines,” says Beyhan de Jong, Senior Specialist Seafood at RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness, part of Rabobank.

Need to overcome risks

There are, however, still uncertainties to overcome before land-based farming is proven profitable. Beyhan de Jong mentions four areas of risk:

  • Financial risk
  • Operational risk
  • Social & regulatory licenses
  • Marketing risks
[Brug Ikke] Rabobank Model Risks
The main risk areas within RAS according to RaboBank Source: Rabobank
[Brug Ikke] Beyhan De Jong, Rabobank
Beyhan de Jong, Senior Specialist Seafood at RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness

 “Looking at RAS history, we have seen more failures than successes. Many of these were caused by operational setbacks that can be traced back to technological failures, biological challenges, such as diseases, and product-quality risks from the taste, texture, and color of the fish,” Beyhan de Jong says.

Fish farmers innovate

Therefore, the industry has a large focus on innovation. Both within technology and feed.

“The industry in general is interested in investing in emerging technology and the development is changing all the time. An example is within feed, where we see experiments with algae, insects and other alternatives to traditional fish food,” Beyhan de Jong explains.

A global development

RAS projects has spread across the world. The leading nations in the field are Norway and Denmark, and markets such as China and the US are experiencing major growth with RAS-projects underway.

“With RAS systems, you can farm fish locally that is not present naturally. This makes it possible to produce fish in proximity to the end user. This might lead to some consumers being willing to pay premium prices because of the local produce and freshness of the product,” Beyhan de Jong says.

[Brug Ikke] Rabobank Model Kort
Publicly announced RAS projects in 2020 Source: Rabobank