Establishing a benchmarking for fish farming - Profitability, productivity and energy efficiency of German, Danish and Turkish rainbow trout grow-out systems
The promotion of Blue Growth in aquaculture requires an understanding of the economic drivers influencing the sector at farm level, but the collection of reliable and comparable data at this level is time-consuming and expensive. This study suggests an alternative strategy for qualitative sampling of freshwater trout farms in Germany, Denmark and Turkey, using a combination of existing data, group discussions and interviews with trout farmers, consultants and researchers. Nine ‘typical’ trout farming models are described, focusing on profitability, productivity and energy efficiency and allowing in-depth comparative economic analyses of different production systems at farm level, across regions. Our results show that the majority of the farms investigated have been profitable. Turkish farms benefit from competitive advantages due to low wages, low capital investment and favourable climate conditions. Large German farms profit from local market prices and advanced farm management. Danish farms using recirculating techniques remain competitive thanks to enhanced productivity and economy of scale. However, small traditional farms in Germany and Denmark may struggle to stay competitive in the long term. Organic farms in both countries face challenges of high feed costs and comparatively low productivity with mixed success. Using edible protein energy return on investment (epEROI) as an indicator of ecological sustainability, all surveyed farms compared very favourably with the terrestrial systems of animal meat production were investigated so far.
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