Dairy disappoints, pig feed in the doldrums but poultry rules the roost in EU feed rankings

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Compound feed production European union

Dairy disappoints, pig feed in the doldrums but poultry rules the roost in EU feed rankings
Poultry feed stays top of the charts, but cattle and pig feed stumbled slightly, says FEFAC in releasing provisional EU compound feed production data for 2014.

Arnaud Bouxin, deputy secretary general of the EU feed manufacturer’s federation, FEFAC, said the last ten years has shown steady growth in poultry feed. “It’s a stable market and the growth trajectory mirrors meat consumption trends with a gradual shift towards white meat in that period."

He notes that pig feed output last year took a hit due to the negative impact on pork production arising out of the Russian ban. “The sector has been facing a number of challenges year on year and we wouldn’t expect to see resurgence for at least another two years."

The estimates indicate poultry feed production, in terms of volume, climbed 0.6% but pig and cattle feed dropped 1% and 5% respectively. “It is important to remember as well that the percentage of home mix in the EU pig feed market is quite significant, as compared to the poultry or cattle segments, and this type of production is not included in our final estimates​,” Bouxin told FeedNavigator.

Dairy disappoints

The good availability of forages due to favorable weather conditions and the sharp drop in dairy prices lowered demand for compound feed in the dairy segment.

“The biggest disappointment in terms of the EU-28 production data was the fact that the expected gain from the 5% hike in milk deliveries in 2014 did not translate into higher dairy feed consumption and output,”​ said Bouxin.

FEFAC reported that total compound feed production for the EU in 2014 reached an estimated 153.6 million tons, which it said was 0.6% less than in 2013.

Poland has been doing “rather well”​ on compound feed production despite the Russian prohibition, with an annual growth of around 7%, added Bouxin. Germany was stable but France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK saw a decline in output in around 0.7 to 1.9%.

Alltech and FEFAC compound feed data comparisons

There is some disparity between FEFAC’s figures and the European production data collated by Alltech for its recently released 2014 Global World Tonnage Survey​.  

“Bear in mind that our estimates won’t be finalized until June. But, that said, there will be a difference in our data and that of Alltech because we don’t apply the same definition of compound feed manufacturer – we assess industrial compound feed output only - and we rely on national associations to send us in final production figures,”​ said Bouxin.

Aidan Connolly, chief innovation officer at Alltech, told FeedNavigator it was important to note its 2015 Global Feed Survey Report provided feed tonnage numbers for Europe as a region, which included many countries in addition to those that are part of the EU. (1)​ 

“According to our figures, the countries isolated [EU-28] add up to 168 million tons of produced feed, which is only 15 million tons more than the 153.6 that was reported recently by FEFAC for those same countries. The differences in the way we a) define compound feed and b) collate the data from sources can easily account for that small difference," ​he said.

Compound feed production data by Alltech for its global tonnage report, is collated in this way: “Where possible, information was gathered in partnership with local feed associations and, when that wasn’t possible, it was done utilizing information collected by  more than 600 members of Alltech’s global salesforce, who visit more than 31,000 feed mills annually.  When reviewing the data, there are two considerations to bear in mind.  First, numbers for less developed countries may be less accurate, but given their size, this will have little numerical influence on the overall dataset.  Second, the definition of feed, feed mill and species varies from country to country.​ 

Meanwhile, FEFAC anticipates a further 0.5% drop in EU compound feed production this year if the negativity continues in the pig and dairy sectors. But Bouxin is optimistic the end of the milk quota will support higher cattle feed consumption in 2015.

Furthermore, he says the “ongoing negotiations with Russia on sanitary aspects, if concluded positively, could reactivate exports of certain pig products to that market and alleviate the pressure on pig producers in the EU.”

EU crop damage concerns

Bouxin cautions though on expectations around the EU grain harvest this year following a warmer than normal winter, which means that crops won’t have hardened and thus this factor could increase the risk of crop damage should the temperatures drop at the end of this month or early March.   

Hardening is the bio-physiological process of winter cereals which transforms the cellular starch into glucose, thereby raising the freezing point of the cellular liquids and increasing the low temperature tolerance of the plants. 

Indeed, the EU Commission’s January 2015 EU crop monitoring data sheet, the MARS Bulletin​, draws attention to this development also: 

“Our latest frost-kill model simulations show no or only a slight degree of hardening in the Mediterranean region and a wide area between Ireland and eastern Poland, due to the fact that this region experienced mostly warmer-than-usual daily temperatures since early December. 

Winter wheat only partially reached the hardening stage in some parts of Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and in the Balkan Peninsula. The weakly hardened crops run the risk of incurring frost-kill damage in the event of a sudden freezing air intrusion accompanied by shallow snow cover.”​ 

Though the MARS report does note the progress of the hardening process is more advanced in northern and eastern Europe and that crops are typically in an advanced or almost hardened stage in Norway, Sweden, the Baltic countries, eastern Poland and Romania. 

(1) This article was amended from the originally published article on 6 February to reflect Alltech's comments on its compound feed production data.​ 

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