Mexican aquaculture boom good for U.S. soybeans

Mexico is ramping up its fish farming industry, which is good news for U.S. soybean farmers.

Francisco de la Torre, who coordinates aquaculture projects in Latin America and the Caribbean for the U.S. soybean industry, says the Mexican government is encouraging increased production of tilapia, with an eye on the U.S. consumer market.  He says Americans are increasing their tilapia consumption by about 15 percent annually.

“The U.S. is consuming somewhere around 32 pounds of chicken per year, but only consuming three or four pounds of fish per year,” says de la Torre. “So you can see that there’s tremendous potential for tilapia, or fish overall, to catch up with chicken.  It’s about as high or better quality protein and with tremendous potential.”

De la Torre says researchers are developing fish feeding formulations that utilize a higher percentage of soymeal. He expects the usage of soymeal in the region’s aquaculture industry to double in the next five years.

“By the end of this year, aquaculture will be consuming about 200-thousand tons of soybean meal in the region-Latin America and the Caribbean,” he says, “and I expect that will grow about another 100-thousand tons within the next three to five years.  My projection was that, in five years, this industry will be using about 400- to 450-thousand tons of soybean meal.”

De la Torre says the Mexican government is subsidizing aquaculture development, providing grants of as much as 50 percent, and making low interest loans on the remaining cost. 

Francisco de la Torre (10 min mp3)

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