Project Details:

Title:
Potential Economic Value of Growth of U.S. Aquaculture to U.S. Soybean Farmers

Parent Project: This is the first year of this project.
Checkoff Organization:Soy Aquaculture Alliance
Categories:Aquaculture, Economics
Organization Project Code:
Project Year:2019
Lead Principal Investigator:Carole Engle (Engle-Stone Aquatic, LLC)
Co-Principal Investigators:
Keywords:

Contributing Organizations

Funding Institutions

Information and Results

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Project Summary

The U.S. is one of the largest seafood markets in the world, in spite of not having high per capita consumption rates of seafood. Demand in the U.S. is driven by the large population size and income levels. However, while the U.S. is self-sufficient in terms of animal protein and livestock feed supplies (Hansen and Gale 2014), it imports more than 90% of its seafood.

The U.S. produces a wide variety of species on aquaculture farms. Some segments of U.S. aquaculture, such as catfish, trout, and oysters, are substantial business segments that make important contributions to local, state, and regional economies. Fish such as catfish depend heavily on soybean meal as a key ingredient in its feed; in other major segments, such as trout, researchers are devoting substantial resources to developing all-plant diets to spare expensive fishmeal. Given the many positive attributes of soybeans including its high protein content and favorable amino acid profile, most efforts to develop all-plant diets rely heavily on soybean products. Soybeans have been referred to as the “king of beans” (Saghaian 2017) with good reason. Thus, the demand for soybeans from U.S. aquaculture is likely to continue to grow.

In the U.S. aquafeed industry, all feed ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. Given the volume of grains produced in the U.S., this means that all feed ingredients are produced in the U.S., many in relatively close proximity to major aquaculture-producing areas. Thus, increased aquaculture production in the U.S. would clearly increase domestic demand for soybeans. Increased domestic demand for soybeans is advantageous for U.S. soybean producers. This project aims to explore the likely effects of increased growth of U.S. aquaculture in terms of increased demand for soybeans through a comprehensive and detailed examination of soybean inclusion rates in feeds for the various types of aquatic animals raised in aquaculture, for both the near future (next 5 years) as well as longer-term potential development.

Project Objectives

1. To estimate current soybean usage in U.S. aquaculture
2. To estimate increased quantity demanded of soybeans for varying percentages of growth of U.S. aquaculture
3. To develop case studies of U.S. aquaculture with greatest potential for growth
4. To estimate potential benefits to U.S. soybean producers from increased domestic demand for soybeans from U.S. aquaculture
5. To finalize estimates based on the 2019 USDA Census of Aquaculture.

Project Deliverables

This report will first present a brief background of trends in U.S. soybean prices, supply, usage and trade, followed by a brief overview of U.S. aquaculture, and a discussion of the types of soybean products currently used in U.S. aquaculture and potential future uses.

Progress of Work

Final Project Results

Updated February 25, 2021:
Supporting the development of U.S. aquaculture would provide benefits to U.S. soybean farmers in terms of sales and in supporting strong rural farming communities. Moreover, as export markets can be unreliable, increasing domestic markets would help to stabilize sales. This analysis has identified those segments of U.S. aquaculture with the greatest short-term and longer-term potential to increase demand for soybeans. The greatest short-term potential to increase demand for soybeans is that of the U.S. catfish sector. U.S. catfish already consumes by far the greatest amount of soybean meal of any sector of U.S. aquaculture due to the overall size of the sector, combined with its high inclusion rates of soybean meal. The market share of imported pangasius catfish could be re-captured through policy changes that create a more level playing field in terms of food safety and environmental standards. Holding imported pangasius products to the same food safety and environmental standards of the U.S. would result in a more competitive U.S. industry because the U.S. industry currently incurs the costs associated with high food safety and environmental management regulations unlike countries that export pangasius to the U.S. If the U.S. catfish industry recovery would continue and reach the production levels at its peak in 2003, its demand for soybeans would increase by 74%.

In the shorter term, the next greatest potential to increase demand for soybeans would be that of salmon, then tilapia, and trout production in the U.S. While salmon farms currently do not use feeds with high inclusion rates of soybean products, the dramatic volumes of production announced in the new, indoor salmon farms rank it as the second-greatest demand for soybeans. Tilapia ranked third due to new investments and proposed expansion, combined with the high inclusion rates of soybean meal in tilapia diets. Trout ranked fourth, based primarily on existing markets that could be captured from imports with policy changes to remove the constraints to expansion of trout production in the U.S., even with the somewhat lower inclusion levels of soybean products in trout diets.

Longer-term, additional increases in demand for soybeans are likely to come from research that would result in increased inclusion rates of soybean products in diets for salmon, and marine fish, especially yellowtail, branzino, sablefish, and pompano, for which existing businesses have been developed in the U.S.

View uploaded report PDF file

The analysis presented in this report has resulted in the identification of those segments of U.S. aquaculture with the greatest potential to increase demand for soybeans. Overall, the U.S. catfish sector has the single greatest potential to increase demand for soybeans. U.S. catfish already consume by far the greatest amount of soybean meal of any U.S. aquaculture sectors due to its overall volume of production, combined with high inclusion rates of soybean meal in catfish diets. Low-priced pangasius catfish imports, primarily from Vietnam, captured approximately half of the market that had been developed by the U.S. catfish industry. However, that market share could be recaptured through policy changes that create a more level playing field in terms of food safety and environmental standards.

The next greatest potential to increase demand for soybeans would be salmon, followed by tilapia, trout, marine foodfish (other than salmon) production in the U.S., and shrimp. While salmon farms currently do not use feeds with high inclusion rates of soybean products, the dramatic volumes of production announced for the new, indoor salmon farms rank it as the second-greatest demand for soybeans.

Tilapia production ranked third due to new investments and proposed expansion, combined with the high inclusion rates of soybean meal in tilapia diets. Trout ranked fifth, based primarily on existing markets that could be captured from imports with policy changes to remove constraints to expansion of trout production in the U.S., even with the relatively lower inclusion levels of soybean products in trout diets. New investments and proposals for projected expansion of marine finfish production from existing farms that produce yellowtail (Hawaii), sablefish (on the West Coast; sablefish is a native fish that is more socially acceptable than Atlantic salmon), branzino (northeast U.S.), and pompano production (Florida) as well as a newly announced indoor facility for yellowtail amberjack (Maine) ranked as the fifth-greatest demand for soybean products, followed by proposals for large-scale shrimp facilities in the U.S.

Benefit to Soybean Farmers

Supporting the development of U.S. aquaculture would provide benefits to U.S. soybean farmers in terms of sales and in supporting strong rural farming communities. Moreover, as export markets can be unreliable, increasing domestic markets would help to stabilize sales. This analysis has identified those segments of U.S. aquaculture with the greatest short-term and longer-term potential to increase demand for soybeans. The greatest short-term potential to increase demand for soybeans is that of the U.S. catfish sector. U.S. catfish already consumes by far the greatest amount of soybean meal of any sector of U.S. aquaculture due to the overall size of the sector, combined with its high inclusion rates of soybean meal. The market share of imported pangasius catfish could be recaptured through policy changes that create a more level playing field in terms of food safety and environmental standards. Holding imported pangasius products to the same food safety and environmental standards of the U.S. would result in a more competitive U.S. industry because the U.S. industry currently incurs the costs associated with high food safety and environmental management regulations unlike countries that export pangasius to the U.S. If the U.S. catfish industry recovery would continue and reach the production levels at its peak in 2003, its demand for soybeans would increase by 74%.

Performance Metrics

Project Years