Dutch pig feed firms look to get involved in coalition aimed at future proofing pork sector

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Jevtic
© GettyImages/Jevtic

Related tags footprint pigs ForFarmers nutrient cycles Livestock Pork

About 75% of the pig feed producer members of Netherlands feed trade group, Nevedi, have announced that they are open to their company joining the Dutch pig industry collective, the Coalition Vitalization Pig Farm (CoViVa), which is aimed at future proofing the sector.

Together these companies, which declared their interest in membership of CoViVa through a letter of intent to Nevedi, produce approximately 95% of the Dutch compound feed, premixes and co-products for the pigs in the Netherlands.

Up to 2015, the Netherlands used to have product boards for livestock, meat and eggs (PVE), but they were disbanded. Those platforms, financed via compulsory producer levies, enabled an exchange of ideas with other partners in the same production chain; they also allowed interaction with government on policy, and on research and education programs, said Henk Flipsen, director, Nevedi,

With the dissolution of those boards, actors in each value chain questioned how to go forward, how to set up new alliances that would be representative of each livestock value chain. CoViVa emerged to answer that need in the pork sector, he said.

A chain-wide collaboration, incorporating representation from pig farmers, feed companies, processors and slaughterhouses, CoViVa also has input from Rabobank, while the Dutch ministry of agriculture, nature and food quality has an advisory role.

Initially, there were only two feed companies involved in CoViVa - ForFarmers and Agrifirm. The new arrangement will be far more representative of the Dutch pig feed sector as a whole, Flipsen told us.

Nevedi will establish a pig feed producers council to coordinate and determine the collective input of pig feed producers to CoViVa, he said. 

That council will discuss in greater detail the conditions and principles for pig feed companies joining CoViVa in mid-June, and then take those requirements to the board of CoViVa in mid-July.

Critical matters such as financing and contributions from partners involved will be on the table.

It is expected that it will be clear by mid-September under which conditions CoViVa can enter into contracts with individual pig feed companies, he said.

The Nevedi pig feed producers council will continue to support and facilitate the affiliated animal feed companies as a collective in determining positions, providing input, and communicating with the companies involved on future innovation strategy, or what direction the restructuring of the pig sector should take, for instance, said Flipsen.

“It is important that we have a platform where all members of the same production chain can learn from each other,”​ he said.  

Industry transformation 

CoViVa acknowledges that broad support throughout the Dutch pork chain is necessary to achieve further sustainability in pig farming. The coalition, it said, deliberating started out small, with only a limited group of companies and organizations in order to accelerate progress.

“Now that the plans are concrete, it is desirable that other companies and organizations support those plans and that we can actually achieve the desired transition together.”

Increased competition, varying levels of revenue and increasing social pressure are causing Dutch pig farming to struggle, notes CoViVa, on its website. Tackling such challenges will require far-reaching sectoral transition.

“The Dutch pig chain wants [to transform], to distinguish itself internationally through transparent chain production in the fields of nutrient and mineral cycles, food quality, healthy animals, animal welfare and CO2 footprint. This should improve the competitive position of Dutch pig farming and ensure more public support.”

Retailers are not part of the coalition. CoViVa, in a Q&A on its website on that aspect, said it wanted to ensure core sector member involvement - those companies involved directly in the production of pigs and pork meat.

“Dutch retailers are of course an important link in our pork chain and a crucial bridge to the consumer, which we certainly listen to. At the same time, most of the pigs and pork [products] produced in the Netherlands are exported.”

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