Egypt’s skyrocketing aquaculture production has triggered a sustained spike in demand for aqua feed, substantially pushing up production costs.
The share of aquaculture in Egypt’s total fish production between 2000 and 2015 rose from 47 percent to 78.8 percent, reaching 1.23 million metric tons (MT). Egypt’s government hopes to continue to increase per capita fish consumption as a means of providing an affordable, domestically produced protein source to its quickly-growing population of nearly 100 million, according to Alaa Badr, product manager at Skretting Egypt, an affiliate of Skretting, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of the Netherlands-based feed group Nutreco and a world leader in the manufacture and supply of aquaculture feeds.
“With 900,000 [MT] of tilapia harvested annually, Egypt has risen to become the sixth-largest aquaculture producer in the world,” Badr said. “A significant production peak began in 2005 because of the number of farms that spread alongside the Nile river shores in Damietta and Rosetta, and the growth is projected to continue as it is a governmental direction to satisfy Egypt’s Vision 2030.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the rise in aquaculture production in Egypt is mainly attributed to significant expansion in the application of new technologies such as the use of extruded feed, water circulation systems, and improved farm management practices. But the growth of Egypt’s aquaculture production – which is the largest in Africa and outpaces producers such as Norway and Chile – has triggered huge demand for fish feed, which has largely been met by importing soybean meal.
“The feed industry estimates that [Egypt’s] aquaculture feed market demand will exceed 1.5 million MT annually by 2020,” USDA said.
The USDA estimates Egypt’s aquaculture feed market will exceed 1.5 million MT by the end of this year, with the country’s more than 70 privately-owned mills expected to produce 90 percent of the total feed output. Currently, 80 to 85 percent of the feed comprises conventionally pelleted products, while 15 to 20 percent are extruded feeds. And 30 to 40 percent of the feed is comprised of soybean meal, as opposed to more expensive fish meal, which comprises between 5 to 22 percent of feed in the country. And Egypt will continue to rely on soy for fish feed moving forward, according to the USDA, which estimates that by the end of 2020, Egypt’s soybean crush capacity will increase to 15,000 tons “due to increasing animal feed demand.”