Omega-3 supply crisis is not just about Peru: DSM

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Omega-3 supply crisis is not just about Peru: DSM

Related tags Overfishing Docosahexaenoic acid

DSM says the supply bottleneck in fish-sourced omega-3 that recently forced its own prices up 15%, is not confined to the dominant source – Peruvian anchovies.

The Dutch company that paid about €1.3bn for fish oil leader Ocean Nutrition Canada last year and algae specialist Martek Biosciences in 2011, said fish oil and fish meal was facing, a time of significant inflation”.

The impact is felt in many fisheries that serve the global market for aquaculture and human nutrition, not just South America,”​ said DSM spokesperson Cassie France-Kelly.

She said the Peruvian fishery may be the most pressured due to its pre-eminence in the omega-3 sector, but noted measures were being put in place to protect the fishery.

We have great confidence in the management of the Peruvian Achoveta fishery. Steps have been taken to certify the fishery with the Marine Stewardship Council, which is no easy task for the largest capture fishery in the world.”

“The pre-assessment is complete and we are eager to begin the full assessment. The recent fishing season that saw a reduction in the catch quota due to the high incidence of juvenile fish is a testament to the level of protection applied to such a valuable resource.”

The Peruvian fishery supplies about 70% of the global omega-3 market.

Farmed fish

Increasing yields from farmed fish may appear to be one solution but France-Kelly said prevailing methods were not going to resolve the problem.

 “The omega-3 levels of farmed fish vary,”​ she reflected.

“Farmed fish yield omega-3s in direct ratio to the omega-3 content of the feed they are given. In most cases, fish are being fed with smaller pelagic species of fish like anchovy, so farmed fish do not really solve the issue.”


She said it was also too early to tell if an impending ban on catch discards among European Union fisheries could provide a substantial omega-3 stock.

We have not seen any work done to characterise exactly what is caught and what potential these offer beyond protein.”

Other fisheries and fish sources that provide omega-3s include herring roe, sand eels, tuna fisheries and Norwegian and Atlantic salmon.

In announcing its 15% price rise last month, DSM said, “The trading price for crude fish oil has reached an all-time high.”

A typical dose of fish-sourced omega-3 will cost a manufacturer in the vicinity of €0.15-€0.50, depending on source and dose.

Packaged Facts put the omega-3 products market at about €19bn in 2011.

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