The importance of the value chain in aquaculture
A value chain is the entire series of activities and transactions required to make a product and deliver it to consumers. Following this simplified definition, the aquaculture value chain comprises the capture/production of ingredients, the production of the diets with those ingredients, their use when producing fish, the harvesting of the fish and its processing, and its sale to the final consumer. However, this value chain is far more complex and encompasses many more actors and activities. The production and processing phases themselves embrace a combination of physical transformations and the participation of other actors and services1.
As the name suggests, value is added to the product at successive points in a chain either by value addition or by value creation. Value addition can result from transformation or processing that converts, among others, whole fish into fillets, which have more unit value or longer shelf life. Value creation results from product differentiation, such as geographical location “salmon from Norway”. Value addition or creation may involve economic gains, but also social or environmental gains2.
A good definition of the value chain, its actors and services, is crucial to obtain clear and assertive data regarding the entire aquaculture market at national and international level, as it is an activity that adds value to the goods produced and contributes to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). It would be important to separate the fish value chain into the fisheries value chain and the aquaculture value chain. Mostly because the two are usually associated and the real market importance of aquaculture is not recognized, as it may be masked by the fisheries sector, not being able to predict or foresee its full potential at national level.
The aquaculture supply chain also involves a wide variety of specific services at different stages, such as wholesale and retail services, as well as marketing services, or vessel leasing services. Others apply to all stages of the process e.g., research and development services, management, and advisory services, as well as training services. There is, therefore, a array of relevant stakeholders to understand and grasp its true value.
It is important and necessary to pay more attention to the different actors in the value chain, the types of production and regulation that affect value formation, sectoral innovation, social and environmental sustainability. To have a clearer understanding of the shape and function of these chains, but also to support public and private development, or regulation of sustainable aquaculture. Furthermore, in the circular and blue economy a set of principles to define sustainable and efficient use and reuse of waste streams across value chains is emerging. The use of aquaculture-related waste and by-product recovery requires considerably more attention, and studies of these value chains will be crucial to know for sure the volume, value, structure, performance, or management of these secondary chains. Only then can value be added, and new businesses can emerge.
Fish value chain (FAO 20192) – Pathway that fisheries and aquaculture products can take until they reach the market, identifying the different stages of the value chain.
1 – Bjorndhal, T et al., 2014. Value chain dynamics and the small-scale sector Policy recommendations for small-scale fisheries and aquaculture trade. FAO Technical Paper:123 pages. Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/fisheries/docs/Value_chain_dynamics_and_the_small-scale_sector.pdf
2 – FAO 2019 – Trade In Fisheries And Aquaculture Services Data Collection And Assessment