Feed leaders explore how to future-proof production
From retailer pressures to new technologies, numerous factors are helping the feed sector embrace sustainability.
The critical sustainability issues affecting the animal feed industry came under the spotlight at the 2022 European LIVE Feed Congress, co-located at VIV Europe, Utrecht, The Netherlands, on May 30.
Meat demand changing
Coen Smits, director of sustainability, Trouw Nutrition, noted that the world population will rise to 10 billion by 2050, meaning that food production must double, and low-income countries will see the most growth. Over recent decades, the population explosion has been concentrated in Asia, but Africa will become the leader in years to come.
This will result in greater demand for animal protein and, he noted, milk and poultry production are forecast to grow the most, by 22% and 17% respectively, between 2020 and 2030. Looking specifically at Europe, he noted that while poultry production has grown more than any other animal protein over the past decade, expansion in the sector will only be slight over the next decade.
Where feed is concerned, production has risen over the past 30 years to stand at 165 million metric tons. However, it can be expected to decline as Europe undergoes a transition from traditional meat proteins to alternatives, included cultured and plant-based meats.
While these alternatives will still only account for a small part of the market by 2055, the segment is growing fast.
Alternatives, however, are not the only factor affecting feed production in Europe. The European Union will be climate neutral by 2050, and there are 2030 targets for sustainable food production. The EU’s Green Deal, for example, could lead to lower agricultural yields. If crop production is reduced, there will be less available for feed.
Local environmental rules also have an impact. The Netherlands, for example, is likely to reduce the number of animals reared to offset nitrogen produced in other areas.
Smits argued that there needs to be a better understanding of the benefits of feed production. According to the FAO, he said, 86% of livestock feed cannot be used in human diets. In many ways, this makes the feed industry quite sustainable, as it uses inputs that cannot be used in human nutrition.
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