I can't find any sources comparing the cost of the two methods.

Specifically, I want to know if its more economically efficient to raise fish as a food source rather than beef - not counting government subsidies.

My intuition says raising fish is cheaper since you can raise thousands of them at a time, but I don't know what costs are associated with maintaining an aquaculture environment (water temperature, chemical/pH balance, etc). I know it costs a lot of money to put a pound of beef on the table (without subsidies helping lower that cost), but i can't find a similar cost for aquacultured fish.

Also i'm not sure if this is the best stackexchange community for this question but i couldn't find a better one that makes sense for this question; if there is a better one please let me know!

  • $\begingroup$ Agricultural economics might exist as a discipline, but the odds of anyone with background reading this Website seems low - almost no questions asked. However, “economically efficient” is vague - is this dollars per amount of protein? $\endgroup$ Aug 13 '20 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ Dollars per amount of protein is an okay metric, or dollars per pound of edible meat. $\endgroup$
    – Taako
    Aug 13 '20 at 21:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Given that fish meal is sometimes used to feed cattle and hogs and is sometimes competitive with soy meal as a feed, I would guess fish is a cheaper source of protein. $\endgroup$
    – kurtosis
    Aug 13 '20 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ Though remember that there are different kinds of fish: fish meal is often fed to farmed fish. My local supermarket has basic beef charged at about half the price per kg as farmed salmon (both without bones) $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Aug 14 '20 at 8:19

Cost of production is somewhat difficult to pin down, since much of that information is private. However, consumer costs are widely available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2954450/

I have managed to find a comparison of beef, pork, dairy, poultry, and eggs to plants in terms of protein, and broadly beef is the most inefficient of those (See Figure 3): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5899434/

This suggests (but does not prove) beef is probably the more inefficient of the two.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ interesting, as i've researched this i found this article esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/fee.1822 which seems to indicate that aquacultures (For most fish, not counting molluscs) are often more expensive in terms of "energy", which intutivelty feels like it should translate to monetary cost. $\endgroup$
    – Taako
    Aug 13 '20 at 22:47

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