This forecasted decline, if it comes to light, would lead to a 1% decrease in compound feed production in 2014 as against last year’s figures, said the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC).
“The general export-led market demand for livestock markets, mainly dairy products is improving while agricultural markets for grain and key protein ingredients have softened compared with the previous year,” said the Federation, when releasing its 2013 compound feed production figures this week.
Farm animals in Europe consume an estimated 470 million tons of feed a year, of which about 30% is produced by compound feed manufacturers.
FEFAC said that the generally more favourable economic context is contrasted by the still very fragile economic situation in many livestock farm holdings in the EU.
And this fragility, said the trade group, is compounded by political uncertainties linked to the situation in Ukraine and also by the impact of future free trade agreements in regard to tariff concessions for livestock imports to the EU and market access to raw materials.
Flexibility for feed users
A spokesperson for FEFAC told FeedNavigator.com that the EU feed sector, in this context, “welcomes and supports the announced EU Council support measures that include the signing of the EU and Ukraine Free Trade Agreement [set for November], which had been shelved at the end of last year.”
He said that this would open EU market access to tariff rate quota (TRQ) grain imports from the Ukraine, offering additional market flexibility and fluidity to EU feed users.
Compound feed production
FEFAC estimates that the turnover of the EU compound feed industry last year was €55 billion ($75bn).
Compound feed production in the EU, according to data provided by FEFAC members, reached an estimated level of 153.8 million tons, slightly less than in 2012.
“While pig feed production dropped by 1.7%, cattle and poultry feed saw their output grow respectively by +0.8 and +0.6%. As a consequence, poultry feed consolidated its position as the leading segment of EU compound feed production, slightly above pig feed,” notes FEFAC.
Cool weather in spring last year helped boost demand for feed in the EU as it impacted on the availability of forages in a large number of countries.
“The still fragile economic situation of the pig sector, which, along with the implementation of the group-housing requirements for sows, affected the resilience of pig production,” said the Federation.
There was a strong decline in the EU sow herd in 2012 and 2013 linked to the implementation of the new EU welfare rules for sows.
The EU Commission, in its Feburary bulletin analyzing the short-term outlook for the meat, dairy and arable crops sectors, said that "increased productivity in the pig meat sector could allow production to recover."
Germany tops feed producer table
Among the largest feed producing countries, UK and Poland performed well last year, with annual growth of 5% and 3%, respectively.
Germany and Italy remained stable but France, Spain, and the Netherlands saw their feed production fall by 1%, said FEFAC.
Croatia saw its compound feed production falling by 7% from 635,000 to 590,000 tons compared to 2012.
Germany strengthened its position as the leading EU country in terms of total compound feed production with France and Spain neck and neck in the rankings for second place.