2022/03/24 - Products
Providing sustainable solutions to the global aquaculture boom
With a world population that could reach 9 billion people by 2030, we at Virbac anticipate the growing importance of aquaculture as an essential source of protein for humans in the years to come. We have been present for several years in all key segments of the sector, in warm and cold waters, and in 2022 we will continue our actions to help farmers to meet this growing demand in a sustainable way. Our global approach combines solutions focusing on prevention and services to implement them effectively.
Aquaculture is plural. With more than 300 species raised, in cold or warm waters, there is not one but many aquaculture! Today, cold water aquaculture mainly concerns the production of salmon and is concentrated in Northern Europe, with Norway in the lead, and in Chile. However, it represents only a small percentage of the world aquaculture production (about 5%) and will not be sufficient on its own to meet the future food challenges. Warm water aquaculture, which already represents the vast majority of aquaculture production in tonnage, is tending to develop strongly. It consists mainly of carp, shrimp and tilapia farming and takes place mainly in South East Asia, Latin America and Africa. At Virbac, we are committed to supporting all aquaculture farmers, both in cold and warm waters. All over the world, our teams are mobilized to support them by providing health solutions that allow them to adapt to the requirements of growth, sustainability and traceability.
Focusing on prevention to reduce mortality in farming
On a global scale, mortality in aquaculture farms is estimated at between 10 and 20% in salmon and up to 60% in tilapia. Our priority is to contribute to a significant reduction in mortality while reducing the use of antibiotics, by proposing alternatives aimed at ensuring a more harmonious and sustainable growth of species. This is achieved primarily through the development of vaccination and disease prevention solutions for aquaculture. For several years now, we have been working with salmon farmers in Norway and Chile, the world's second largest producer. We have an important industrial & R&D infrastructure there with the ambition to bring more innovative solutions and to look for additional synergies between the cold water and warm water fish segments. To support the advancement of warm water aquaculture, in 2021 we inaugurated in Vietnam, the Virbac Aquaculture Technology Center (VATC) to accelerate our ability to develop solutions for the prevention of major aquaculture diseases. We also rely on innovative technologies and experts through targeted partnerships such as with Ictyogroup, which allows us to offer a wide range of vaccines to tilapia farmers.
Developing vaccination against Streptococcus agalactiae, the number one enemy of Tilapia
Tilapia farming is currently the fastest growing segment of aquaculture, especially in Africa. Mostly consumed locally, it brings an element of response to tomorrow's feeding problems and generates new needs in animal health. Its number 1 enemy? Streptococcus agalactiae, a bacterium responsible for stunted growth and which can decimate up to 60% of livestock. Since the infection occurs at the end of the production cycle, just before sale, vaccination is the only alternative to limit its impact without using antibiotics. Thanks to our partnership with Ictyogroup, since 2020 we have been offering a vaccine specifically developed for warm water fish and effective against the three serotypes of S. agalactiae (Ia, Ib and III). It is an injectable vaccine, the most effective against the disease, administered in a single injection to facilitate handling and limit fish stress.
A global approach to better respond to field problems
Our approach is not limited to products. We also provide aquaculture professionals with services such as the analysis of the germs involved in their farm, to define with them the best protocol to adopt. Our research center in Asia (VATC) has as a second vocation to help the farmers to identify the cause of the diseases they are confronted with in order to better manage them. We also offer technical training and tools to optimize the effectiveness of the solutions implemented. Finally, we are increasing opportunities to meet with industry professionals to raise awareness of the long-term benefits of prevention and encourage them to expand vaccination. Throughout 2022, we will be present at professional events covering the sector's major markets. Our program starts in March with Aquaculture Africa 2021, the African chapter of the World Aquaculture Society, which is holding its first international edition in Egypt. It will continue with the Aquaculture Europe conference in September in Italy, then in October with the Aquaculture Africa conference in Zambia and finally in November with the Latin America & Caribbean conference in Panama.