Sustainability is core to DSM, says VP as company launches strategic animal farming initiative

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/sarayut
© GettyImages/sarayut

Related tags enzymes Algae Omega-3 fatty acid methane emissions Sustainability

DSM says it is building on its work to date on feed enzymes, on algae derived omega-3 and on methane emissions reduction to lead what it terms a robust and achievable transformation worldwide in sustainable animal protein production.

“We believe we can make animal farming sustainable and it is right thing to do from a social, financial and environmental perspective. We are talking about it publicly and trying to lead by example,” ​ Christie Chavis, vice president at DSM Animal Nutrition and Health (ANH), told FeedNavigator.

Sustainability platforms

DSMs’ new strategic initiative, called We Make it Possible,​ is driven by six sustainability platforms that will address the major challenges facing the animal farming industry.

These are:

• Improving the lifetime performance of farm animals
• Improving the quality of food (i.e., meat, milk, fish, eggs), while reducing food loss and waste
• Reducing emissions from livestock
• Making efficient use of natural resources
• Reducing the reliance on marine resources
• Helping tackle anti-microbial resistance

“DSM, with its long and rich heritage in sustainability, has an emphasis, within each of the business units, on [looking at] how we can continue to drive and become a purpose led company,” ​explained Chavis.

She said this newly announced sustainability initiative has developed out of that.

“We have been investing for many years in different scientific solutions aimed at elements of this initiative, looking at feed efficiency or improving lifetime performance of animals.

“The intent of DSM’s leadership now is to try and take this one step further, to continue to foster and facilitate this conversation throughout the value chain, with our stakeholders, expanding on what has been done in the past.”

Sustainability is such a broad topic, that clearly the whole industry has to embrace it if there is to be meaningful change, said the VP.

It will take all of us within the chain to make [that kind of] progress.”

Lots of companies play up the sustainability angle, so how credible is DSM’s announcement?

“What sets DSM apart is the fact that sustainability has been a core part of its agenda for a number of years. Overall, credibility is there. DSM has long been taking up this charge. This is not a new focus for the company. And what I think is different and is valuable in this conversation is being transparent about the six sustainability platforms that we are focused on, and also working with others in the value chain in terms of meeting these goals. We are putting ourselves out there, we have put a stake in the ground and we are being very clear about we are driving towards.”

Indeed, one of the reasons Chavis decided to join DSM was the sheer number of sustainability focused projects under its portfolio, she told us.

The company is also actively communicating on how its products align with five of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - 2 - Zero hunger; 3 - Good health and wellbeing; 12 - Responsible consumption and production; 13 - Climate Action; 14 - Life below water.

“We are working to gain additional information and insights on those products and their performance in different farm environments, going a step further than what we have done historically, working in production environments to show how we can utilize them to reduce emissions or to improve overall efficiency, but that is just one piece of [the campaign],” ​said Chavis.

DSM, in this regard, is leveraging LCA modelling, and global metrics for sustainable feed, continuing, she said, to build on existing guidelines like the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI) guidelines, which relies on FAO based methodology, as well as the EU PEFCR and the Agri Footprint guidelines.

Feed related actions

In terms of concrete actions to achieve its highly ambitious targets under this initiative, she said DSM would continue to expand on work done to date around its algae-derived replacement for marine ingredient sourced DHA and EPA for use in feed, branded as Veramaris.

“Feed enzymes would be a second category that we are working on, how we get more nutrition out of less feed. Methane emissions reduction would be a third area – we are working to get regulatory approvals for our Bovaer product [a feed additive designed to reduce methane emissions in beef and dairy cattle]. Another category is nitrogen and phosphorus emissions reduction, again leveraging enzymes in this area to ensure we are utilizing the nitrogen as efficiency as possible and optimizing phosphorus use.

“We are recategorizing our entire portfolio based on these sustainability platforms.”

The company wants to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 30% by 2030. “We are also aiming for 75% of our power to be renewably sourced and we are looking to increase our energy efficiency by 1% a year to that date.”

“Building upon some of the recognition that we have received to date from groups like Sustainalyticsand others, we want to continue our efforts in this area. It is important to note that we view sustainability as both input and output, not only how much we are consuming but also what we are doing to reduce what we are putting into the world.

“We can’t do this alone; we are making it possible by closely collaborating with our customers, creating partnerships and forging connections and conversations so we can generate a more sustainable agriculture footprint for all of us.”

When asked whether the recent acquisition of Biomin was driven partly by this strategy as well, Chavis said:

“The work in this area has been going on for years. The acquisition of Biomin is a nice opportunity and fit to continue to build the portfolio of ANH and to continue to incorporate products into the portfolio that can enable sustainability platforms such as improving lifetime performance and reducing waste.”

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