To gauge US consumer interest, Delacon conducted a survey on in-feed use of phytogenics - the Austria-based company released its results during the International Processing and Packaging Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta.
The company found that a majority of US millennials, defined as consumers aged 24-35, would be more likely to select a meat product if the animals were raised with phytogenics, it reported.
Delacon carried out the survey in the US to find how what would “resonate” with consumers, said Sonny Pusey, regional manager North America for Delacon.
There has been an awakening within the feed sector, he said. It realizes it has to become more transparent and engage with consumers, said Pusey. “For too long we wanted to keep it too scientific, too technical and today that’s not what resonates – it’s the wellbeing of the animal, and how well are you feeding them, and what is their immune status and how do you do this without antibiotics. It’s valuable information and it needs to be shared," he told us.
“If you want to be successful, you need to know your market,” said Markus Dedl, Delacon CEO.
He said the feed additive industry is now looking beyond traditional stakeholders.
“Consumers are the ones who make these choices and they shape the industry,” he said. “It will not be the last study that we do, because, if we do research, we want to have valid results, not the results we want to have, and when it comes to the consumer's opinion, that is only possible if you ask the guy on the street.”
About 87% of self-identified "millennial foodies" said use of phytogenics in animal production would have a “positive impact” on what brand they selected, said Delacon. And six in 10 of those polled said, if possible, they would actively pick meat or poultry products if phytogenics were used in the animal’s diet, it added.
“We have clearly seen that millennial foodies preferred meat from animals that were fed natural compounds that improve immunity and animal welfare – that was the one label claim that resonated most with people,” said Dedl.
“People understand that immunity is important and animal welfare is important,” he said.
Of those surveyed, 44% said they consider themselves 'foodies,' and 63% of the self-identified foodies said they closely read product labels.
Survey respondents said what they looked out for when selecting a meat product included factors such as the rearing of livestock with good welfare practices, no antibiotic usage, and limited environmental impact from the rearing of such animals. The majority said phytogenic use fit with their interests in the environment, animal welfare and use of natural ingredients, noted Delacon.
“I would have thought [the most important factor considered by consumers would be] certified organic and raised locally, because I seem to hear more about those two movements than others,” said Pusey about result surprises. “They were prominent, but they weren’t in the top three.”
“Consumers want to have a choice in what they consume, and, I think, the producers will want to adapt to that so they can offer that choice,” said Dedl.
Delacon has been working with phytogenics in the US market for multiple years - the CEO predicted major developments down the road. “I believe, in the next five years, there will be big changes in how the industry feeds animals due to regulations and also due to consumer choice,” he added.
Additionally, Delacon is focusing on helping support a production shift away from the use of antibiotics in the US, said Pusey. And it will continue to work in alliances such as the one with PMI Nutritional Additives, he added.
“[US] producers are going to want safe products that work well and resonate well with the end consumers,” he said. “It will be kind of an interesting ride, these next five years, because the discovery process, I think, is going to mushroom as we begin to rely on various and sundry things to replace antibiotics.”