Animal by-product use in feed – what is next?

Poultry meal as produced by Darling Ingredients. In the EU this will be allowed for use in swine feed. - Photo: Photo: Darling Ingredients
Poultry meal as produced by Darling Ingredients. In the EU this will be allowed for use in swine feed. - Photo: Photo: Darling Ingredients

In the European Union, processed animal protein (PAP) – or animal by-products – can be fed again to pigs and poultry from this year. What does that mean for the future? Will PAP be added again to livestock diets in large amounts? “There are several factors which will likely limit its use.”

Animal by-products remain an important component of livestock feed around the world. That does not mean that their use has not had its challenges – for example the BSE crisis and current concerns over using unsustainable fish ingredients in aquaculture. Indeed, the entire animal protein industry is under enormous scrutiny in terms of sustainable feed sourcing and every other aspect of production. Consumer preferences are also playing a role in whether feeds are all plant-based or contain some animal by-products. However, the future for by-products remains bright.

Fishmeal use will grow

Global Market Insights predicts that by 2027, the animal protein feed ingredients market will be worth US$ 280 billion. That is mainly because human population is expected to continue to grow and with it will grow the need for sustainable, high-quality protein. And even though the aquaculture sector is trying to reduce or eliminate unsustainable fishmeal use by replacing it with protein and fats from plants, microbes or insects, Global Market Insights predicts that fishmeal use in that sector will grow at a compound annual rate of over 4% to 2027.

Soybean meal

It is the same with trying to reduce or eliminate soybean meal (SBM) as a feed ingredient imported into Europe from countries like Brazil and Argentina, where the crop is not grown sustainably (i.e. it is grown on land that used to be rainforest). As explained , imported SBM from South America is now seen as unsustainable. “The European Commission is keen to promote locally sourced feeds to enhance its circular economy criteria.”

However, a major change in animal by-product use in the EU seems likely to lower the amount of SBM needed there. It is one of several major factors currently affecting by-products.

While feed manufacturers seem to generally welcome the option to use PAP, there are several factors which will likely limit its use based on the new regulation

Dr Stefan Mack, head of service marketing for animal nutrition at Evonik

Lifting a ban

Right now, the EU is in the process of overturning a ban on using processed animal protein (PAP) from non-ruminants (pigs and poultry) in feed for non-ruminants. The ban was a response to the BSE epidemic, which started in the UK in the 1980s and is generally accepted to have been caused by the incorporation of meat, bonemeal and especially nervous system tissue into livestock feed.

Much is still unknown

Dr Stefan Mack, head of service marketing for animal nutrition at Evonik, notes that much is unknown at this point about the cost, availability and use level of PAP that will occur in Europe after the 20-year ban lifts. In addition, PAP products can be diverse in their nutritional quality depending on the origin of the raw materials.

He notes, “While feed manufacturers seem to generally welcome the option to use PAP, there are several factors which will likely limit its use based on the new regulation. One is that PAPs can only be used in single-species feed mills. Their percentage in the EU is quite low.” He adds, “Investments in process control and analytics to ensure compliance with regulations will be required.”

‘Nutritional value of non-ruminant PAP undisputed’

For his part, Anton van den Brink, (senior policy manager at the association of the European compound feed and premix industry [FEFAC], and executive director at EFFPA, which represents former foodstuff processors for livestock feed) notes firstly that the nutritional value of non-ruminant PAP is undisputed.

“However, for significant impacts on reduced need for soybean imports, there are still some key challenges related to practical uptake of non-ruminant PAP, but also availability,” he says. “We should not forget that the porcine and poultry PAPs… were already being partly absorbed by other, higher value markets such as pet food and fish feed.”

Van den Brink notes that approximately 0.5 million tonnes of PAP will now be available for use in pig and poultry feed. He cautions, “You can read a figure of 2.9 million tonnes, but this figure includes any kind of PAPs (mixed PAPs and ruminant PAP).”

On a local level, with dedicated production lines and favourable market conditions (in particular, general acceptance), there may well be feed companies that are able to absorb these resources

Anton van den Brink, senior policy manager at FEFAC

On that note, Van den Brink points out that the reintroduction of ruminant PAP into livestock feed of every type has not even been discussed within the European Commission at this point. He believes that makes it highly unlikely that they will become available for livestock feed production within the next ten years. He bases this view partly on the fact that the current lifting of the feed ban on using non-ruminant processing by-products for non-ruminants took 11 years to become reality (it was first established as a target in the EU Commission TSE Roadmap II in 2010).

Porcine meat meal, as produced by Darling Ingredients. In the EU this will be allowed for use in poultry feed. - Photo: Darling Ingredients

Porcine meat meal, as produced by Darling Ingredients. In the EU this will be allowed for use in poultry feed. – Photo: Darling Ingredients

Consumer preferences

Dr Mack and others also believe that consumer acceptance of the use of PAPs in European livestock production may play a role in how much will be used. However, Van den Brink says, “On a local level, with dedicated production lines and favourable market conditions (in particular, general acceptance), there may well be feed companies that are able to absorb these resources.”

Still, in his view there is “limited scope” for widespread use of porcine and poultry PAPs in poultry and pig feed. He says, “FEFAC would be cautious in considering any significant impacts of the recent re-approval of porcine and poultry PAPs on imported soybeans.”

Plant-based feed

There is also another consumer issue at play. For various reasons, consumers in many countries are attracted to buying poultry meat from birds fed only plant-based feed. Dr Janet Remus, senior technical director at Danisco US, notes that pork, beef or poultry meals (or blends of these) have been used successfully for many years in the US to feed poultry. However, she adds, “In recent years, the move to ‘no antibiotics ever’ and ‘raised without antibiotics’ programmes in broiler chicken has also moved more feed tonnage to all-vegetable-based feeding programmes.”

Other factors

There are other factors such as quality and digestibility, consistency and availability of by-products that will affect how they are used. Dr Remus points out that while all types (poultry, pork or beef) of by-products are available, pork or beef can see more use in livestock feed, whereas poultry meal has found increasing use in the pet food sector. She adds, “For swine, high-quality pet food grade poultry meal can be used in nursery feeds.”

Dr Remus says that soybean meal, the key protein used in swine and poultry diets, can be short on supply and therefore higher in price. “Then animal by-product meals will price into feeds at higher levels,” she adds.

Research

Looking forward, Dr David Meeker notes that the functionality, economics, nutritional value and advantages of feeding rendered products to both swine and poultry have been very well established by research worldwide. Dr Meeker is the senior vice president of scientific services at the North American Renderers Association (NARA) and director of research at the US-based Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF).

He notes that FPRF has put emphasis over the last 15 years into other areas of research (such as aquaculture, pet food, validation of thermal processes, new markets, etc.). However, he says, “The use of rendered products in animal diets remains one of our top priorities. The global tight supplies of animal feed ingredients ensure continued demand for rendered products, and FPRF will continue to support these markets with targeted research.”

Hein
Treena Hein Correspondent