If the last two years have taught us anything, it is that our world is becoming more volatile and that we have to be more flexible in the future. With that in mind, we ask ourselves what the main issues will be that our industry and businesses will need to focus on in the coming months. The answer is, very probably, this: 1. raw material costs and the supply chain; and 2. consumer trends, specifically local production, antibiotic-free production and animal welfare.
Currently, feed costs account for about 65 to 75 per cent of animal production costs. Chances are that this will not change for the better in the near future. Supply chains have been under great pressure, and we have seen a dramatic rise in costs for many raw materials and additives. This begs the question: Is there some way in which we can apportion the considerable price increases to farmers, food retailers and end consumers?
There may be the risk that feed quality will suffer as a result of these developments. A case in point would be the use of fewer mould inhibitors or acidifiers due to price pressures. Here, we can clearly see that the use of certain feed additives that affect performance — enzymes, acidifiers (our CaPlus range) and phytogenics (Anta®Phyt) — can actually be more profitable than doing without them under the current conditions. For example, we can save on feed if the same amount of animal protein can be produced with less feed.
Apart from this, the increase in the cost of raw materials naturally has an impact on the profitability of the feed industry. There are concerns that consolidation of the industry and the decline in profitability will have a negative impact on the industry’s capacity for innovation.
Animal welfare will remain the key driver of innovation in the feed industry and anything related to livestock production and aquaculture. Consumer demand for products that are produced in a more sustainable, healthy and animal-friendly manner continues growing unabated and will continue to shape our industry. Sometimes animal welfare is considered a kind of dirty word in our industry. But we cannot avoid offering appropriate solutions to our customers (food retailers and their customers). In the case of poultry, for example, the trend is shifting increasingly to local breeds, so-called »native chicken«. Consumers in many parts of the world are demanding that antibiotics be reduced to the absolutely indispensable. And their expectations also have an impact on the method of production: farmers have to invest in new barns, find alternatives for interventions such as docking or castration without anaesthesia, and better strengthen their animals against stress through the application of stress-reducing additives such as MagPhyt, for instance. In all of this, we need to keep our eye on the ball and look to, listen to and understand food retailers and their customers. After all, we are all in the same boat.