Price relationships among soybean oil, IP soybean oils and fish oil
This project has demonstrated the technical feasibility of replacing up to 50% of the fish oil (FO) with high omega-3 soy oil (STA) in the diet of S. rivoliana. The question posed in this part of the study is whether this is likely to be a profitable substitution, and if so, what is the potential size of the world aquaculture market for STA oil and the engineered soybeans required to produce it.
The profitability of substitution depends on the price of STA relative to that of FO, and the physical rate of substitution of one for the other. The growout trial of the project demonstrated that if fish must be fed for a fixed period of 238 days, it requires about 1.24 kg of STA to substitute for 1 kg of FO. (The “oil reduction” trials imply roughly similar rates of substitution.) Thus only if the price of FO is more than 24% above the price of STA would the substitution to be profitable under this fixed 238-day production period.
The price of commercial STA oil will certainly be higher than commodity soy oil because of the strict market segregation required for a genetically engineered product such as this. We estimate that STA oil will sell at a 22-40% premium over commodity soy oil, depending on volume, yield drag and other factors. We also expect that the current 3% FO premium over commodity soy oil is likely to persist. If so, the price of STA oil will be 19-37% higher than FO, which would certainly result in losses from substituting STA for FO in a fixed-period production plan of 238 days.