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10 seafood trends you can bank on in 2019

If you want to succeed next year, you need to know what's ahead.

The new year is fast approaching, so it’s the perfect time to dust off the crystal ball and peer into the all-knowing orb for divine wisdom and guidance.

What will 2019 bring to the global seafood industry? Here are some sure-fire trends you can bet on.

FAO: Disruptive technology is revolutionizing seafood trade

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Technology & innovation: We’re talking major leaps here -- from land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) to advances in harvesting and processing to block chain traceability -- technology is driving a new level of innovation across the entire supply chain. The result of all of these innovations is improved efficiency, increased sustainable production, full utilization of seafood and lower operating costs. We are experiencing this trend first-hand at IntraFish, and have been tracking so much innovation that we've had to expand our coverage. Last year, our company launched Tekfisk, a Norwegian website dedicated to reporting on industry technology and innovation -- you've seen plenty of their work on the pages of IntraFish.com.

IntraFish Podcast: Land-based salmon extravaganza

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Land-based seafood: When you talk technology and innovation, there is no more dramatic example at the moment than land-based aquaculture. Last year was filled with news of an ever-increasing number of land-based operations being built or coming on line. From the much-anticipated Atlantic Sapphire land-based salmon farm in Florida to on-land shrimp operations and a host of other out-of-the-water efforts, land-based farming using RAS is the hottest trend of the new year. There is still a lot of work to do to smooth out the wrinkles, but the foundation is set and money is pouring into the sector, with investors betting on what they see as the future of aquaculture.

Analyst: Stock market places high value on fish welfare

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Fish health: Another area where multi-national companies and investors are sinking their money and time is the fish health sector, which covers disease prevention and treatment in farmed salmon and other farmed fish. A recent report to investors from DNB Bank argued that fish health should be more important to a salmon farming investor than the company’s financials.

IntraFish Industry Report: Race to produce feed alternatives heats up

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Feed me: Money is also pouring into efforts to develop alternative sources of protein used in fish feed. With limits on the level of wild fish that can be harvested and turned into fishmeal and fish oil, companies such as Cargill and many others are developing feeds that use plants, insects, algae and other alternative ingredients to take the place of wild anchovies and other fish that are traditionally used in feed. Just this week, French supermarket chain Auchan has launched a line of "insect fed” trout in 52 stores in the North of France region.

Knut Nesse appointed MD of SeaBOS

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Clean, pure, transparent: There continues to be growing consumer interest in foods that are “clean,” meaning they don’t contain unwanted chemicals, they are brought to market in a sustainable manner, they are raised or harvested in ways that minimize impacts on the environment and they are traceable throughout the supply chain. This trend, often associated with the demands of the Millennial generation, actually cuts across all demographic groups. So, get your transparency house in order now.

Baader: Processing digitalization at full speed ahead

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Value-adding: Utilizing the entire fish or shellfish by adding value through more precise processing is a common mention in the quarterly and annual reports of the seafood industry’s largest seafood companies. Value-adding works because it meets the demands of today’s consumers, who are looking for simple protein portions they can add to recipes. It also works because it allows suppliers to get the very most of each fish they move through their factories. Groups such as the Iceland Ocean Cluster are pushing hard on the idea of full utilization of each fish, and value-adding is one way this is being achieved in profitable manner.

Watch your back salmon farmers; Asia is on your tail

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Consolidation: The big are getting bigger. That’s the simple way to say that consolidation continues to sweep over the global seafood industry. Perhaps the newest angle on this ongoing trend is that we are now seeing more companies acquire other companies that are outside their home region. Canada’s Cooke buying US companies such as Wanchese and Omega Protein and Chinese group Legend holdings buying Chilean salmon farmer Australis are just a couple examples. But there are plenty more and more are coming.

FAO: Aquaculture production to grow nearly 40% by 2030

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Aquaculture: We talked earlier about land-based aquaculture, but there is an explosion in all forms of fish farming in all parts of the world. This is by no means a new trend, but it is a significant re-alignment of the global seafood supply chain that has been unfolding at a faster pace over the last decade, and the FAO predicts we will see 40 percent growth in production in just 12 years.

Once again, China changes everything

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China: The Asian powerhouse is vacuuming up seafood at record levels. The business plans of seafood companies almost all (or should) include the Chinese consumer market. China, too, is investing in its domestic seafood industry, as well as buying supply chain companies overseas, as we saw recently when Chinese Legend Holdings Corporation’s subsidiary Joyvio Group signed a deal to buy Chilean salmon farmer Australis for $880 million (€773.7 million), a price-tag that marks the highest valuation of a Chilean salmon company yet.

Time to bang down the door on climate change

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Climate change: Despite the maniacal ruminations of the current resident of the White House, the effects of climate change on the seafood industry are becoming more visible with every passing year. This year saw some ominous news about the movement of fish, and issues like disease and algal blooms will be an increasing concerns in years to come.

Send your comments to john.fiorillo@intrafish.com

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