special edition: feed sustainability

Institute formed by trade groups to continue gauging environmental impact of feed

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ipopba
© GettyImages/ipopba

Related tags FAO Afia footprint

The founding partners of the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI) are establishing a legal non-profit institute, under the same name, to expand its work and make the data more widely available to stakeholders throughout the global food value chain.

The new entity is expected to be operational by early 2020.

The GFLI started in 2016 with the goal of developing a “global gold standard” ​for determining the life-cycle analysis (LCA) of feed ingredients. Its members include the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), Animal Nutrition Association of Canada (ANAC) and the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC).

Nick Major, vice-chair on the GFLI board and FEFAC president, said that for poultry, fish and pork production, in particular, the feed production stage carries the largest share of the footprint.

"We have a clear responsibility, as the feed sector, to make concerted efforts in this area," ​he said. 

He told FeedNavigator: “GFLI will accomplish this by providing an accurate means of measuring the impact [of feed] and also identifying technologies and best practices that contribute to reducing that impact, for continuous improvement.”

Feed manufacturers are also starting to realize that they need to provide information on environmental performance to their customers, he said.

“The intention is indeed to ensure that the GFLI database becomes the global reference for feed materials,” ​he said. “We have made a great start with over 1,500 data points, but the value of GFLI depends on developing the database over the coming years to ensure it includes the widest possible range of feed materials and geographical origin (where that is relevant).”

GFLI development and institute launch

The Livestock Environmental Assessment Performance (LEAP​) Partnership was a project led by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). It developed sector-focused guidelines to examine the environmental performance of livestock supply chains. The newly established institute is set to use that methodology and establish a product environmental footprint (PEF) compliant database.

The “key deliverable” ​of the non-profit institute will be the database of feed ingredients, said Major. “For us and our project partners, it was imperative to launch a pre-competitive initiative which enables all stakeholders to have access to secondary data on the environmental performance of key feed ingredients,” ​he added.

Transitioning GFLI into a legal entity means that the group can move beyond its “project phase”​ and provide the necessary licenses and user agreements for stakeholders interested in either providing or using the data, he said.

“We have also to ensure that GFLI has a business model that works given that access to the aggregated data will be free, although, of course, subject to an end-user license agreement with the newly established legal entity,”​ he said.   

An initial priority for the organization is to make sure that the current animal feed database is readily accessible and provided in a way that works with different life-cycle analysis tools, Major said. “The objective is that this is available by the end of this year.” 

Sustainability indicators covered 

The GFLI database covers 15 categories related to the effects of feed production including climate change, eutrophication, water footprint and acidification, according to group information. The categories were selected to comply with the product environmental footprint guide.

It also examines stages of production from “cradle to farm-gate” ​or all stages up to the feed being delivered at the farm, the group said.

Initial datasets covered Canada, the EU and the US, according to project information.

In addition to providing data, the institute is set to develop tools to help industry members assess their feed products. 

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