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US checkoff helps develop new uses for soybeans

Soybean meal is increasingly used as the key ingredient in fish feeds. Partially responsible for this increase is the United Soybean Board and the soybean checkoff research and marketing efforts. This provides potential for soy as the aquaculture industry strives to meet global demand.


May 6, 2008
By Southeast Farm Press

May 5, 2008


The United
Soybean Board (
USB) and the soybean checkoff continue developing new uses and
new demand for soybeans in all lands of the world, and even the ocean holds
great potential for soy.


Soybean meal has increasingly become a key ingredient in fish feeds as the
aquaculture industry strives to meet global demand for its products, thanks in
part to checkoff research and marketing efforts.

“Fish meal is getting scarce and more costly, creating a market opportunity for
more soybean meal to be used as a protein source in fish and shrimp diets,”
says Bill Coppess, USB director and a soybean farmer from Ansonia, Ohio. “Soy diets can also decrease the
mercury levels in seafood, helping to alleviate some health concerns.”

Aquaculture represents great potential for soybean meal, because aquaculture is
the fastest-growing animal-food-producing sector, consuming soybean meal from
over 250 million bushels of soybeans.
In the United States, each person eats about 16.5 pounds
of fish and shellfish each year, including about 4.4 pounds of shrimp. The
U.S. consumes about 1.4 billion pounds
of shrimp annually.
“Crustaceans represent about 4 percent of aquaculture products worldwide, but
represent about 20 percent of the value,” says Karen Fear,
USB director and a soybean farmer from Montpelier, Ind. “That’s why the soybean checkoff is
working with shrimp farmers around the world to find ways for more soy to be
used in shrimp diets.”

The soybean checkoff also works to incorporate soy into all species of farmed
fish. Ocean capture fisheries, which have long provided the majority of edible
fish products for the world, have reached maximum sustainable yields. This
means that any expansion will have to come from aquaculture, and using soy as
an aquafeed will be a big part of that expansion.

One group that has partnered with the checkoff on open-ocean farming is Kona
Blue, an operation that sees a definite opportunity for soy and aquaculture to
join forces. “If 50 percent of the global expansion in aquaculture is high-end
fish and 50 percent of their feed inclusion is soy, that could mean another
$7.5 billion worth of soy going to aquaculture,” says Neil Sims, president of
the Hawaiian-based company that grows high-end Kona Kampachi.

The soybean checkoffs’ Soy In Aquaculture program further invested in
open-ocean aquaculture by supporting the Ocean Cage Aquaculture Technology
(OCAT) project. The project began in 2004 and includes the design and
construction of ocean cages built to withstand typhoon-strength winds. The
marine life in OCAT cages are fed with soy-based floating aquafeeds. The
patent-pending OCAT cages are 100-cubic-meter, rigid-frame cages capable of
culturing up to 10 metric tons of fish per cage. The cages are designed to be
primarily auto-submersible and operate with a single-point mooring system.