Last week saw Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) announce plans to invest in its rapeseed crushing facility in Straubing in Germany to add switch capacity in order for it to process soy beans sourced from farmers in Bavaria, Baden Württemberg and Upper Austria.
“The additional crushing and soy buying capacity from ADM will motivate growers to cultivate non GM soy and get their crop certified against the Danube Soya Standard,” said Ursula Bittner, manager of the Austrian headquartered Danube Soya Association, which promotes GM-free soy cultivation in the EU and a migration away from reliance on third country protein imports.
ADM is aiming to supply Danube Soya certified GM free soy meal to livestock producers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
René van der Poel, general manager of ADM Straubing, said the company had noted an increase in production of non-GMO soybeans in the Danube region and growing interest in European grown soybeans from industry.
“So we have added switch capacity to connect those crops with the market. That allows us to process more than one crop at the facility, giving us the choice of which raw materials to crush based on demand from our customers and supply from farmers.
We hope that providing farmers with an additional outlet for their soy crops will encourage non-GMO soy production,” he said.
He would not be drawn on what the soy crushing capacity at the Straubing site will be but told FeedNavigator the majority of the investment cost is taken up with the technology needed for the segregation of rapeseed from soybean flows in the plant and the preparation of those materials for processing.
The switch capacity is expected to be in place in Q2 2016, said ADM.
Bittner told us, overall, the cultivation and crushing capacity for Danube Soya certified soybeans is growing. Mills are now established in Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Switzerland and Austria as well as the planned ADM facility in Germany, so the aggregate capacity of Danube Soya certified crushers now exceeds 750,000 tons, she said.
But she said inexperience and lack of investment are holding back yields in some of the emerging markets in the Danube production zone, an area stretching from Switzerland to the Black Sea.
Early estimations for 2015 harvest, said Bittner, forecast the same yield as the 2014 record year despite poorer output.
The Danube Soya Association reported last week that though the summer was characterized by hot days and, thus, difficult growing conditions for European agriculture, early estimations predict overall stability in European soy:
“The smaller yields were compensated by the expansion of cultivation areas, which increased due to the work of the Danube Soya Association as well through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The soy cultivation areas in the Danube Region, excluding Ukraine, have nearly doubled in size – from 580,000 hectares in 2012 to 950,000 hectares in 2015.”
By the end of 2014, 50,000 tons of soy was sold as Danube Soya with most of that coming from farmers in Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia and Austria and smaller quantities from other countries within the Danube Soya region, said the association.
It could be much higher, said Bittner, but demand must accelerate. “It requires sectoral change,” she added.
However, there have been success stories: “November 2013 saw 80% of all laying hen production in Austria converted to Danube Soya certified meal, for example,” said Bittner.
Those layers need 40,000 tons of Danube Soya meal.
Austrian pork producers Schirnhofer and Hütthaler have also committed to feeding a percentage of their animals - around 40,000 pigs - with the GM free soy meal.
Naturafarm in Switzerland, which supplies the retailer Coop with eggs, is also feeding its hens Danube Soya and, since December 2014, its poultry production was converted to that meal also. Micarna, a group supplying poultry to another Swiss retailer, Migros, also switched their production to Danube Soya.
The Danube Soya Association works on various areas in stakeholder dialogues, working groups, dissemination and research. Some of its goals include the inclusion of soy cultivation in the framework of future EU policies, and the establishment of standardized guidelines for GMO-free production and labelling for food and feed.