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Wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs identify food as their "next big thing"

The following is an extract from the most recent McKinsey Report  How might China surprise us in 2013? 

It contains ten predictions from Gordon Orr, a McKinsey director based in Shanghai


8. Investment in overseas agriculture is the “next big thing”

In China, a trend that starts as a trickle often becomes an overnight flood. Outbound investment in commodities and premium agricultural products, for instance, will reach a tipping point in 2013: China has shifted rapidly from a trade balance on agricultural goods to a deficit that’s currently around $40 billion and growing at 50 percent a year. This transformation reflects increased demand in China for basic cereals to feed its expanding livestock populations and a slow-to-restructure domestic industry that can’t supply the need. China is now the second-largest importer of rice and barley and a top-ten buyer of corn.

Chinese companies lease hundreds of thousands of hectares from Argentina to Kazakhstan to grow soybeans.Outbound investors also eye a growing opportunity for premium fruits and vegetables of the kind sorely lacking in China. I don’t mean only state-owned enterprises spending their spare cash. Many private Chinese entrepreneurs, who have been wildly successful in areas from real estate to technology, have identified the food chain as their next big thing.

Investing outside rather than inside China is attractive not only for the reasons already mentioned but also to diversify assets geographically and to avoid the high prices paid recently for assets in the domestic food chain. In the last few months, for example, the Shanghai Zhongfu Group diversified from real estate in Shanghai by investing around $728 million in a sugar-cane project in Western Australia. And at a major conference in Beijing in December, Chinese private-equity firms met with senior executives of US food companies and representatives of US state agricultural bureaus to discuss ways of increasing China’s investment in US agriculture.



The Case For Investing In Aquaculture 

Seafood is the most globally traded protein commodity by volume and value, and the global seafood trade is larger than the trade in all other animal proteins combined.  Aquaculture currently provides nearly half (46.5%) of all fish consumed by humans and by 2030 aquaculture will be 50% of TOTAL fish supply (human consumption and F&FO - Fishmeal and Fish Oil.

In 2008 the total global aquaculture production amounted to 68.3 million tonnes with a first-sale value of US$106 billion.  The retail value is approximately 6x the first sale value.

Aquaculture is world’s fastest growing food production sector.  In the last three decades (1980–2010), world food fish production of aquaculture has expanded by almost 12 times, at an average annual rate of 8.8 percent, and it continues to outpace population growth. Aquaculture is expected to continue to grow at 5-7% per year up to 2015.

Over 75% of the world’s fisheries are considered fully- or over-exploited.  Global per-capita seafood consumption is increasing, and Aquaculture output is expected to rise 33 percent over the next decade, to reach to 79 million tonnes.  This is in stark comparison to the projected 3 percent growth of capture fisheries.

 Governments around the world are focusing on food security issues, and at consumer level, there is growing interest in food safety and sustainability credentials, and the health benefits from seafood.

We are nearing the end of the Green Revolution, with yield improvements reaching a growth plateau and limited new land available that is viable as farmland. We are, however, at the start of the Blue Revolution.  Recent improvements in hatchery techniques and grow-out systems provide new platforms for growth in Aquaculture, and new feed solutions and husbandry protocols will drive further productivity gains.

Traditional investors in the Agriculture sector are looking for opportunities to invest in aquaculture, and the doors are open for aquapreneurs to present well-developed Aquaculture business investment proposals. We've experienced this first-hand at agribusiness investment conferences and during one-on-one discussions with fund managers.


"At Aquanue, we’re working at the front end of the Blue Revolution.  From land-based systems that use very little water during operations, to site configurations that produce zero net discharge, to the development of species-specific aquaculture feed products that use reclaimed fish processing waste – Aquanue is helping drive the Blue Revolution in new ways."

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UN FAO publishes 'World Aquaculture 2010' report and six regional reviews

9 November 2011, Rome - Aquaculture is the world's fastest-growing source of animal protein and currently provides nearly half of all fish consumed globally, according to a report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The report World Aquaculture 2010 found that global production of fish from aquaculture grew more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2008, from 32.4 million tonnes to 52.5 million tonnes.

From the report: “Aquaculture continues to be the fastest-growing animal food producing sector and currently accounts for nearly half (45.6 percent) of the world’s food fish consumption, compared with 33.8 percent in 2000. The Asia–Pacific region continues to dominate the aquaculture sector, accounting for 89.1 percent of global production, with China alone contributing 62.3 percent of global production. Moreover, of the 15 leading aquaculture producing countries, 11 are in the Asia–Pacific region.”

It also forecasts that by 2012 more than 50 percent of the world's food fish consumption will come from aquaculture.

"With stagnating global capture fishery production and an increasing population, aquaculture is perceived as having the greatest potential to produce more fish in the future to meet the growing demand for safe and quality aquatic food," the report said.

The full report, together with regional reviews presented at Global Aquaculture Conference held in Phuket, Thailand in 2010 can be found on the following dedicated website:


This content from the published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  All Rights Reserved FAO.