Aquaculture next big money maker
Agriculture investors are placing their bets on aquaculture as the next big money maker as demand grows for farmed fish to feed the burgeoning worldwide population's need for protein.
People in quickly developing countries such as China have been altering their diets to include more expensive sources of protein. First choice is poultry and pork followed by beef, but this move is not sustainable, especially due to the excessive amounts of water and grain needed to raise cattle.
Many believe farmed fish is the answer to this problem.
Kevin Schwartz, a partner at US private equity firm Paine & Partners, noted that there exists a major interest in fish that can both provide an alternative source of protein and which can be raised sustainably, Reuters reported.
"Aquaculture is a way to meet that demand," he said to the bankers, fund managers and investors who came together at the Global AgInvesting Europe 2010 conference last week in Geneva.
Low cost protein
Farmed fish such as tilapia would have no trouble finding bountiful consumers around the planet, said Rich Gammill, managing director of Black River Asset Management, part of agri-business giant Cargill.
"It just makes sense economically for people to turn to fish as a low-cost source of protein," he said.
Gammill suggested that aquaculture would avert ecological destruction from overfishing stocks and thus attract developed market customers as well. "From a sustainability point, this needs to be developed," he stated at the conference.
"There is an opportunity for Central America, for southeast Asia and for other markets who have control over their water quality and practices to play a much greater role," he added.
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