Aquaculture Market Study

Rainbow trout.
Image credit: Piotr Pakula/WiP-Studio

The Aquaculture Market Study is a three-year (2020-2023), $250,000 project led by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant program that was created to determine the potential for a sustainable food-fish aquaculture industry in Minnesota.

“Potential food-fish farmers planning to enter the industry are interested in credible data that will help them decide which production strategies and species are best suited for profitability,” said Amy Schrank, project lead and University of Minnesota Sea Grant fisheries and aquaculture extension educator. “Producers will need this information to apply for loans from banks and lending institutions.”

Food-fish or fish for human consumption is a relatively new and modest aquaculture industry in Minnesota and includes seafood such as shrimp and other forms of shellfish in addition to fish.

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What is aquaculture?

Aquaculture is the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, algae, and other organisms in all types of water environments. 

What is a market study?

A market study helps to identify and analyze information about target markets and customers for a particular product. The products in this project are farm-raised fish, which are aquaculture products.

Project description

Why? Interest in food-fish aquaculture is growing in Minnesota and the Great Lakes region because consumers want to purchase local foods and are concerned about food security. The increase in worldwide demand for protein and decrease in stocks of wild-caught fish are also driving interest in food-fish aquaculture. The project team will assess Minnesota’s current food-fish supply through detailed interviews with food-fish farmers and distributors. The team will also work with farmers to determine production costs of various fish species grown in Minnesota.

Barriers? A major barrier to development of aquaculture businesses in Minnesota is a better understanding of potential markets and market-price targets for locally produced fish. Specifically, potential growers are interested in credible data that can help them decide which production strategies and species are best suited for profitable production.

State regulatory agencies. Minnesota’s regulatory and management agencies are interested in being prepared for the development of new and diverse forms of aquaculture at all operational scales.

What do we plan to do? To determine the viability of a sustainable aquaculture industry in Minnesota, we plan to:

  1. Analyze consumer knowledge, preference, and willingness to pay for aquaculture products;
  2. Assess the current food fish supply to determine what production systems and species will be most profitable for producers and identify market opportunities;
  3. Provide clear recommendations to both the aquaculture industry and policymakers through a robust outreach program based on our results, and
  4. Contribute to workforce development in U.S. aquaculture by training a graduate student. By addressing critical gaps in economic and market knowledge, our project will help determine the potential for expansion of a sustainable aquaculture industry in Minnesota and the Great Lakes region and contribute to job creation, healthy food production, and the growth of local businesses.

Who will use this information?  “The information from these assessments will be coupled with consumer demand data to identify price points so that profit margins can be estimated for the Minnesota food-fish industry,” said Don Schreiner, University of Minnesota Sea Grant fisheries specialist and project member. “This information will be important to determine if Minnesota-grown fish can compete successfully with fish grown out of state.”

Why Minnesota Sea Grant?

The Aquaculture Market Study project supports Sea Grant's mission to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine and Great Lakes resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment. Specifically, this project supports our national and state focus area of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

What have we done lately?

We hired a graduate student, Eric Honebrink, in 2021, to work on the Market Study project as part of his Master’s thesis. Dr. Hikaru Peterson from the Applied Economics Department at the University of Minnesota is Eric's major advisor. In 2021, Eric started an ongoing literature review and began drafting a consumer survey to assess the potential for a food fish market in Minnesota. Minnesota Sea Grant staff created a market study advisory group composed of nine people from the aquaculture industry and the Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The first market study advisory group meeting was convened on December 17, 2021, and input was received about what information is needed from the market study. A second advisory group meeting is scheduled for late spring/early summer of 2022 to review the consumer survey. Plans to distribute the consumer survey at the state fair in late summer are being discussed.

Participants & audience

The Aquaculture Market Study project seeks to serve aquaculture farmers in Minnesota.  


Minnesota Sea Grant’s project “Determining Market Potential for Food-Fish Aquaculture in Minnesota” is funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s competition “Addressing Economic and Market Needs of the U.S. Aquaculture Industry,” federal funding opportunity number NOAA-OAR-SG-2020-2006331.

Program Staff

Blond woman with mountains in the background
Fisheries and Aquaculture Extension Educator
Don Schreiner headshot
Interim Extension Program Leader (June - Dec 2022) and Fisheries Specialist (2014-2022)
Communication Manager

Program News

This is one of several food-fish aquaculture projects led by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant program.


  • University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics, Academic Institution (College and University)