A recent issue of Popular Science magazine discussed how changes in both the environment and technology have led to innovative trends in food production. One of these trends quickly gaining momentum is aquaculture, and even in places more associated with traditional farming, such as Indiana, aquaculture is fast becoming a more common practice. (Popular Science, October 2015).
So how could the rise of a niche farming practice such as aquaculture be of concern to a typical retailer? While it makes sense that retailers who cater to farm and ranch customers could see some crossover business from aquaculture practitioners for maintenance supplies, large holding tanks, or water pumps, the opportunities in this category might not be limited to industrial operations.
As the interest in local food production grows and more urban and community gardens are sprouting up in communities across America, a growing number of forward-thinking farmers are combining both vegetable and fish production into the same system. Add to this the fact that many of the products used in aquaculture are the same types of items stocked for larger outdoor ponds and fish habitats, and it’s easy to see how retailers might be able to tap into aquaculture as a growing niche.
The typical aquaculture system includes several components: large open-water tanks, pumps, filters, water pipes, heaters and temperature control devices, as well as various construction materials for raising some of the components off of the ground, or for installing drainage systems underneath the tanks. Most of these products, if not all, can be supplied through standard retail operations.
Aquaculture may still be mainly in industrial and larger-scale urban production, but consumers are becoming more interested in the idea of raising fish, if not to eat, then to support the growth of plants by utilizing fish waste to fertilize vegetables. These aquaponic systems can be smaller in scale than their fish-only counterparts, and there are some, like the Back to the Roots AquaFarm (www.backtotheroots.com) and the AquaMini system by The Aquaponics Source (www.theaquaponicssource.com), that can sit on a table or countertop.