De Heus moves into Egyptian fish feed business

'The Egyptian aquaculture sector’s market value is over USD$1.5bn' © istock/Manakin

Growing demand for fish feed in Egypt sees a joint venture involving Dutch feed group, De Heus, open its first fish feed factory in that country.

The alliance, Koudijs Kapo Feed, includes De Heus and the feeds raw material importer, Kapo for Agricultural Projects; it has been producing a range of feeds and concentrates for the poultry, duck and cattle sectors since 2003, with output at an average of 120,000 tons of feed a year. Now the JV is entering the fish feed game.

Capacity for the new plant, they said, is pegged at 150,000 ton per annum. It is located on a 12,000 square meter area in Borg Al-Arab, Alexandria.

The fish feed produced will be for fresh water fish, mainly tilapia, but the plant also has the capability to produce feed for marine water species: “We plan to move into that in the near future,” said Yasmine Kamar, Koudijs Kapo fish feed plant project manager.

The partners said one of the triggers for the fish feed factory build, which was two years in construction, was, without doubt, the development of 4,000 new fish farming ponds in Ismailia, in the northeastern part of the country.

Fish farming in Egypt

However, the growth of fish farming in Egypt, in general, was the key driver for the build:

“Egypt is one of the top aquaculture producers in the world. It alone produces more than 1.2m tons of farmed fish per year and is in the top five tilapia producers globally, the Egyptian aquaculture sector’s market value is over USD$1.5bn,” said Kamar.

Over 580,000 people are employed in the sector.

Moreover, per capita fish consumption in Egypt, as per UN Food and Agriculture Organization data, stands at around 21kg per year, higher than meat and poultry, and one of the highest in the world, she noted.

“Fish feed production in Egypt currently comes in at around 1.1m tons feed annually, which is less than what is needed to sustain current fish production. There is a supply/demand gap of about 200,000 to 300,000 tons,” Kamar told us.

The main species farmed in Egypt are fresh water fish, with tilapia the dominating at 65-70% of production, followed by mullet and carps. The farming of marine species such as seabass and seabream is a growing trend, with new projects underway, backed by the private and public sector, she continued.

“Thousands of kilometers of the Egyptian shoreline are still untapped and present potential for marine water fish species,” said Kamar.

She added that the De Heus joint venture with Kapo has been successful: “We are considered one of the most profitable countries for De Heus.”

Attracting investment

Other international feed players see the potential in the aquaculture sector in Egypt.  

In late 2015, Nutreco’s aqua feed division, Skretting, teamed up with local experts to expand tilapia production in Egypt and it also set about increasing its fish feed capacity in that country.

It invested in an extra line at its existing tilapia feed facility in Bilbeis in the eastern part of the Nile Delta, to bring its fish feed capacity to 150,000 tons in Egypt. It said then the extra capacity would allow it to better serve tilapia producers, through providing them with quality extruded fish feed, as well as technical expertise and support.

Skretting also announced a five year research collaboration with not for profit group, WorldFish, that it said would support the sustainable development of aquaculture in the region.

WorldFish focuses on reducing poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture.

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