16/08/2021 by Chris van Bussel
Double-digit Growth for Premium Barramundi
Premium Barramundi is seeing double-digit growth in market supply, while Asian sea bass is seeing a slower but steady growth.
Growth in production volumes has been relatively steady for the last 10 years but we see an increase in supply of the premium fish segment. Production volume today exceeds 130.000 MT but expansions plans and raising of capital are likely to drive global production volumes up further. Although originally barramundi comes from the tropics ‘down under’ barramundi recently appeared in Norway, on the Oslo stock exchange.
Barramundi or also called Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer) is a bass like fish with firm white flesh, native to South Asia and Australia. It is a catadromous fish, meaning in the wild it migrates from fresh water to sea to spawn. Like many other migratory fish (such as salmon, striped bass, eel) this behaviour makes the fish very suitable for aquaculture since it can be cultured in both fresh, brackish and marine water. Therefore, farming takes place in a variety of locations (land-based, estuaries, coastal) and a variety of systems (ponds, cages, RAS). Also, its hardiness, nutritional requirements, availability of fingerlings, fast growth and easiness to cook, have contributed to its popularity as an aquaculture species.
Global production today is estimated to be around 130.000 MT, and the top producing countries are Malaysia, Thailand, China, Taiwan and Australia. Growth in production volumes has been relatively steady for the last 10 years at a CAGR between 4 and 5 %.
Barramundi and Asian sea bass; same fish but different products and markets.
Although the species are biologically and genetically the same in all countries and production systems, there is a clear distinction on the consumer side between the ‘premium species’ and a ‘lower valued’ variant of the species. Sometimes the terms ‘Barramundi’ and respectively ‘Asian sea bass’ are terms used to distinguish the two from a marketing perspective. The premium species is generally grown larger in size and brought to market as a value-added product (VAP) whereas the lower valued variant is generally smaller and brought to market as ‘portion-sized fish’.
About one third of the barramundi produced today can be categorised in the premium large size barramundi segment and the main producing regions are Australia, Indonesia and the Middle East. Growth of premium barramundi has been much higher, it 10-year annual growth rate is in the double digits.
You can read more about what this means for the growth perspective, risks and challenges, cost of production, farm gate prices and outlook for farming in our next Aquaculture Bulletin or by contacting our analysts.
Image: Shutterstock by PAPA WOR
The figure below, created by Kontali Analyse, show the global production of Lates calcifares, split by product form; larger sized ‘Barramundi’ or pan-sized ‘Asian sea bass’ (MT WFE).