World food supplies must not only meet the needs of an expanding population but it must also provide for increased consumption as the standard of living of the existing population improves. This means the demand for resources is rising exponentially and is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture since the "green revolution". Projections from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, estimate the animal protein requirement of 2050 to be about 889 million metric tons per year or 3 times the consumption in 2010. Other estimates indicate we may need up to six times the levels produced in 2010. This means that all sectors of agriculture will need to expand to meet the increased demand. If aquaculture is to fulfill its potential and contribute to the improvement of world protein production then we must improve culture technologies, genetics and feed formulations of our culture species.
The increased demand for food means that agriculture supplies must be significantly expanded and that current limitations of feed stuffs are likely to continue to be a problem. The increases in demand, limitations of supply and/or narrowing of buffer of supply and demand, have resulted in most ingredients becoming less available and more costly. Shifts in prices, due to real and perceived limitation of supply are seen in all commodities and are a problem for the entire industry. Most problematic are ingredients with limited supply such as fish meal and fish oil. Fish meal and other marine ingredients, are considered desirable ingredients in fish and shrimp feeds because of their nutrient content and palatability. In the past we have relied on these ingredients to supply essential nutrients and to ensure the palatability of our feeds. Essentially, we have relied on fishmeal and fish oil to ensure the nutritional adequacy of feed formulations and inadequacies of nutritional knowledge for many species. Continued reliance on marine ingredients is not possible as these ingredients have limited supplies which cannot be expanded. Consequently, we must renew our emphasis to improve our knowledge of nutrition and the applicability of various feedstuffs.
As world demand continues to grow, food reserves will continue to shrink, resulting increased volatility of markets and increases in prices. Agriculture production must rapidly expand its production which means all animal production systems will be vying for limited supplies of feedstuffs and contending with increased costs for basic ingredients. This means that feed cost will continue to rise, challenging aquaculture enterprises to improve production efficiencies through, genetics, inventory control and nutrition. Improving the efficiency and cost effectiveness of commercial feed formulations will be a critical component of future success. This means: updating feed formulations with the latest nutrient requirement and ingredient restriction data; determining and/or refining nutrient requirements, especially those limiting feed formulations; incorporating "new and/or improved" ingredients, utilizing locally produced feedstuffs and improving processing technologies. This presentation will summarize key considerations in nutrition, ingredient selection and feed formulation and will hopefully stimulate future research in aquatic animal nutrition.