The Minnesota-based agri-giant released details of a consumer survey on the use of feed additives and supplements in animal production earlier this month. The overall findings included that consumers want production species raised using the same types of natural health supplements they would use.
The survey was conducted to get a better understanding of the elements that are able to influence customer decisions, said Chuck Warta, president of Cargill Premix and Nutrition.
“It is important for Cargill to understand what is driving the market and what is influencing customer decisions,” he told FeedNavigator. “In the end, we are better positioned to deliver what our customers need if we have a pulse on consumer preferences.”
However, the survey did not ask if consumers would be willing to pay more for animal products if they were raised using natural supplements, said Warta.
The Feed4Thought survey polled more than 1,000 people in the US during December of 2017, said Cargill.
Of the millennials who responded to the survey, 62% said they wanted the animals raised to provide protein products to use the same health supplements that are used in humans, the company said. These would include probiotics, plant extracts and essential oils.
Overall, consumers polled in the survey were three times more likely to pick a protein if they knew the animal that produced it was fed a natural feed additive used to improve the animal’s digestive health or well-being, the company said.
Cargill was interested in consumer thoughts on the use of feed additives because those preferences are having an effect on the market, said Warta. “Retailers and consumer product companies are making adjustments to the type of products they offer, and about the information, they are providing about how protein is raised,” he added.
“Consumers want to know where their food comes from and what is being fed the protein they consume,” he said. “Consumer indicators will continue to play a role in how we deliver for our customers.”
Additionally, about 72% of those who responded to the survey said they knew natural health products that could be offered to production animals existed, said Cargill. Probiotics were the most well-known type of supplement for production animals.
However, the company also thinks that it will be important to raise consumer awareness about other feed ingredient options, said Warta. “Certainly probiotics [are] one, as are other ingredients that promote better immune and digestive health that positively influence animal well-being,” he added.
“Phytogenics is another that we think is important part of our portfolio,” he said. “Phytogenics is a category that uses natural ingredients, including herbs, spices, other plants and their extracts, such as essential oils, to improve animal performance and secure animal health for sustainable, wholesome food production.”
Looking forward, it is anticipated that Cargill will seek to provide a range of options for customers who field questions about the animal supply chain and to address the variety of consumer preferences, he said. “We know that consumers have a wide variety of preferences, and that there is no one approach that meets everyone’s need,” he added.
The company also expects to see interest in the use of natural or sustainable ingredients in feed continue to expand, he said.
“Our strategic equity investment in Delacon, and purchase of Diamond V are two great examples of the commitment we are making to technologies and solutions in this area,” said Warta. “One of the biggest questions we get from customers and consumers is around how different technologies interact with each other in the animal. Our investments will allow us to leverage the combined capabilities to answer these questions and invest innext-generationn research in this area.”