More than 40 per cent of Canadian angler households now buy their fish oil in the United States, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.
It’s the biggest shift of the last 50 years, says Dr. Brian Tung, a senior scientist at the institute.
“We were not able to quantify that in the 1960s and 1970s.”
The findings come at a time when the United Nations is looking into how to curb the growth of the world’s largest and most profitable fish markets.
“It’s really the first time that we have a comprehensive report on how the fish oil industry is being impacted by the rise of the US market,” said Tung.
“And this has been happening for the last decade or so.”
The United States is the biggest fish oil producer in the world.
But for some anglers in Canada, it’s the only place to get it.
The U.S. market is estimated to be worth about $100 billion a year, with fish oil the second largest component behind pet food.
That’s a significant jump from its peak in the early 1990s, when the industry accounted for about two-thirds of all fish consumption in Canada.
“The demand for fish oil is huge,” said Terry Schofield, executive director of the Association of Canadian Fish Oil Producers, which represents about 2,200 producers in the province.
“You don’t see fish oil being sold in supermarkets anymore.
You don’t even see it on the shelf.”
We were seeing demand for the product that we sold, which was not a good investment for our business.
“Fish oil is a key ingredient in fish oils used in cosmetics and body lotions, but also in the cosmetics and toothpaste industry, as well as in some other products, including toothpaste.
But it’s also found in a wide range of products, from hair products and shampoo to baby formula and laundry detergent.
The study found that, in the U.K., for example, fish oil consumption was up 15 per cent since 2011.
Canada, meanwhile, saw a rise of about 20 per cent, with consumption of the oil up 24 per cent.
But as demand has grown in the West, the industry has had to change.
The market’s biggest driver is competition from cheaper alternatives, such as the more expensive and more potent synthetic formulation made by Bayer CropScience and Monsanto. “
Now it’s not as popular as it was 30 years ago,” said Schofielding.
The market’s biggest driver is competition from cheaper alternatives, such as the more expensive and more potent synthetic formulation made by Bayer CropScience and Monsanto.
“What we’re seeing is a significant shift away from a natural product to a synthetic product, which leads to some concerns that the industry may be getting caught in the crossfire between these two different players,” said Shofield.
“A lot of that is the result of the fact that the fish market is a highly cyclical market.”
But Tung thinks it’s more about changing attitudes.
“In a very short period of time, we’ve had a very big shift away,” said he.
“For the first 40 years or so, it was a natural industry that had been there and had worked very well.
And then we got into a situation where fish oil was not doing well and then suddenly it went from being a natural source of protein to being an industrial commodity.”