by Dimitri Sclabos Katevas
Prepared for Aquafeed.com by: Mr. Dimitri Sclabos Katevas
Dimitri Sclabos Katevas is an experienced fisheries specialist, offering consulting and brokerage services for krill and other fisheries technology,
marketing and product development worldwide.
He may be contacted at:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone:
(+56 2) 273 4966; Fax: (+56 2) 273 0395.
Antarctic Krill (Euphausia suberba, Dana) is one of
the least exploited marine resources, while it is also the most abundant.
It is a small crustacean found in the South Atlantic Ocean. Krill is a tasteful
and healthy food, with high protein content and omega-3 fatty acids. Krill
is also a rich source of natural pigments, vitamins and other components highly
valued in human food, animal/fish feed and nutraceutical companies.
The Krill industry started to develop three decades ago by fishing companies
mainly from Japan and the former Soviet Union. While Japanese companies manufactured
products mostly for the sports fishing industry and for aquaculture, the Soviet
companies manufactured products for human consumption and for aquaculture.
The Krill fishing operation is complex. It is done in Antarctic waters, under
extreme weather conditions and far away from ports with substantial operational
complexities. Krill’s fishing location and the difficult weather conditions
in the main fishing area, together with the costs involved in the operation,
have contributed to a slow development of the industry. Krill fishing is
by far different to any other fishing operation today known. The knowledge
to work with it belongs to very few people in the world.
Actual krill fishing companies are burdened either by poor management skills,
a high cost structure or by outdated equipment, technology and processes.
Some companies have also shown an unreliable performance due to working capital
constraints and quality inconsistency, among others.
The main Krill products manufactured in the past and presently are whole
frozen for the sports fishing industry, some dried Krill meal for aquaculture
feeds and the sports fishing industry, and canned tail and frozen tail meat
for human consumption.
Actual main operators are Japanese fishing companies, either working independently
or acting through third party Polish and/or Korean fishing associates. Japanese
companies are usually burdened by a high cost structure, while outdated equipment,
technology and processes burdens the Poles, Russians and Ukrainians, resulting
in inefficient production and inferior quality. No South American companies
are yet involved in the krill industry. One North American Company [Top Ocean
Inc. from Kodiak, Alaska] also participates in the industry possessing the
most updated processing equipment for dry meals and frozen meats.
While the Japanese products are considered to have high quality, Polish products
are seen as being inferior. This view is consistent with the type of technology
applied on board their factory vessels, being Japanese technology considered
as the leader within the industry, though it relates more to their customer's
faith on Japanese consistency rather than real outstanding and proven technology.
Russian and Ukrainian companies, on the other hand, historically produced
mainly low quality food grade canned tail meat, with now old Soviet technology,
which was destined to be sold in the former Eastern Bloc countries, plus a
small amount of low quality Krill meal. North Americans and Koreans entered
the industry in later years, USA company specializes in higher quality Krill
meal and other food (human) grade Krill products, while the Koreans produce
mainly whole frozen Krill.
The ability to deal with extreme weather conditions, seasonal resource variability
and capture is an important competitive advantage within this industry. The
notorious Antarctic weather conditions, where fishing operations are carried
out, are of seasonal nature and affect all competitors equally. However,
differences in equipment, logistics support, and seamanship will determine
capture, production yield and product quality.
In terms of demand, buyers are mostly related to aquaculture and sport fishing.
Buyers include large trading companies in Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and other
Southeast Asian countries, US, and Europe, and large end-users worldwide,
both in the fish and shrimp industry.
The most important suppliers to the Krill industry are the companies that
provide fuel, given the importance of bunkers within the operational budget.
These suppliers consist of several companies that provide fuel in different
ports along the South Atlantic coast (Montevideo, Uruguay and Ushuaia and
Rio Negro, both in Argentina), in Falkland Islands (UK) and in Punta Arenas
(Chile), and a couple of Greek companies that supply fuel and food provisions
directly in fishing grounds in the South Atlantic waters. Some of these companies
also offer cargo transport service to different destinations.
The international regulatory body governing all scientific, economical and
environmental aspects in the Antarctic Krill harvest area is the Commission
for the Conservation of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). CCAMLR
is a Hobart (Australia) based treaty organization with 23 member countries,
including Korea, Japan, Chile and the US (and other seven countries that have
ratified the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention),
with direct and indirect presence in the Antarctica. It has annual meetings
where it defines fishing quotas, conservation parameters, and population restrictions,
among others. In order to control its own regulations, CCAMLR is enforcing
the use of independent observers on board fishing trawlers.
There are three distinct lines of Krill products, not necessarily present
in the market nowadays, most of which are natural and organic, no additives
added, characteristic which is increasingly valued by customers in most markets,
classified as Food, Aquaculture feed and Nutraceutical/Industrial.
Table 1: Lines of Potential Products
(1) Frozen meat
(1) Pharma oil
(2) Dried shell, Chitin, Chitosan
(1) Frozen tail meat
(1) Feed additive, attractant,
(2) Natural pigment source (antioxidant effect), omega-3 fatty acids
(1) Pigmented oil, Natural pigment
(2) Multi-glucose polymer with different uses
(1) Food processors, restaurants,
(1) Nutraceuticals, cosmetics,
(2) Wastewater treatment, Medical supplies, Food and feed additives
The Aquaculture Feed product line consists mainly of Krill meal and
Krill oil. Krill meal is a specialty feed additive, which has been produced
by the industry for more than 15 years, yet it is still in the growth phase
of the product life cycle curve. Krill meal is a highly nutritious and effective
attractant and flavor agent, used successfully in low palatability diets for
aquaculture fish, such as diets that contain vegetable proteins and/or antibiotics.
It is also a source of natural antioxidants and pigments (astaxanthin), used
to increase the flesh pigmentation of fish such as salmon, trout and yellow
tail, and of shrimp. Krill meal is superior to other crustacean meal products
in terms of its amino acidic content, its attractant and flavoring quality,
the capability of the fish and shrimp to extract the pigments from the meals,
and its immune-precursor quality.
Krill oil can be used by the aquaculture industry for its high pigmentation
values, due to its high content of astaxanthin, as well as for being a rich
source of omega-3 oils. Actual competitors in the Krill industry have not
yet produced Krill oil at a commercial scale.
The Food product line mainly consists of Frozen Krill tail meat [plus
Krill protein concentrate (powder), and Krill hydrolyzed soluble]. Frozen
tail meat is the cooked and peeled tail meat of Krill, frozen at sea. This
unique organic seafood product has a mild taste, similar to lobster, and it
is very nutritional, being rich in omega-3 oils (which contribute to lower
cholesterol levels), vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Among some of its
uses, frozen tail meat can be employed by secondary food processors for breading,
or it can be used in pizzas, seafood salads and restaurant entrees.
Companies that produce indirect competing goods belong to the traditional
fishmeal and oil industry (which are diversifying their business by manufacturing
human products, given the poor results and increasing fishing restrictions
within the fish meal industry), and to other industries that manufacture protein
feed and food products.
Table 3: Potential Competing Fronts
(1) Frozen Krill meat
(1) Krill meal
(2) Krill oil
(1) Krill pharma oil, Astaxanthin
(2) Krill dried shell
Potential Competing Products
(1) White fish frozen fillets
(cod, tilapia, sole, hake, catfish, Alaska Pollock, turbot), lobster,
frozen shrimps, crabs, prawns, and crawfish
(1) Lango & Prawn meal,
Shrimp meal, Squid meal, Clam meal, Fish meal
(2) Fish oil
(1) Fish oil, Natural or artificial
(2) Crab shell, Shrimp shell, Lango shell
Regarding the attractant and palatant qualities of Krill meal, squid meal,
clam meal, artemia soluble, and fish soluble, among others, are indirect competitors.
However, Krill meal presents several advantages compared to the rest of the
products: it has a high natural pigment content (astaxanthin), with astaxanthin
also functioning as an antioxidant and photo protector. Moreover, it has been proven that this pigment has a positive effect in the rates of growth and immune-modulation in both fish and shrimp. Astaxanthin has also a positive influence in shrimp survival rates. Krill is also a rich source of minerals, and it has certain amino acids that stimulate smell and taste, and glycogenic amino acids that are appetite stimulants. These factors contribute to its high attractant and palatant quality.
In the food product line, Krill meat competes with white fish fillets, lobster
meat, frozen crabmeat, shrimps, and crawfish, among others.
There are some nutritional supplement companies that sell nutraceutical products
that contain omega-3 oil, which is an important component of Krill pharma oil.