Compound feed production in the calendar year 2020 was 24.1 million tonnes. This is around 181,000 tonnes more than in the previous year and represents a very slight increase of 0.76 percent. The industry turnover for compound feed in 2020 totalled 6.8 billion euros, a decrease of around 5 per cent compared to the previous year. The figures recently published by the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE) were explained by the German Feed Association (DVT)
at its annual video press conference at the end of March. DVT President Jan Lahde commented on the figures: "The result is largely due to the fact that in 2020 feed production was able to continue as a system-relevant sector without impairment in times of the Corona pandemic."
The increase resulted mainly from pig feed: a total of 9.8 million tonnes were produced, 266,000 tonnes more than in the previous year (+2.8 per cent). Laying hen feed also increased by 2.9 per cent and now stands at 2.3 million tonnes. Cattle feed amounted to 6.9 million tonnes, which is a good 150,000 tonnes lower than last year. Fattening poultry feed production was constant at 4.1 million tonnes in 2020.
Looking back on the past year, Lahde summed up: "We were able to secure supplies for agriculture in a very difficult phase without any noticeable adverse effects. The supply of raw materials was secured at all times. This shows how resilient our value chain is in the agricultural and food industry as long as we can source our raw materials across borders and thus secure supplies." The global availability of all necessary raw materials and feed additives with open borders is a great advantage in order to be able to compensate for selective bottlenecks. This must continue to be possible. Lahde noted how sensitively the market can react when market forces are influenced by external factors and the system gets out of balance. This could manifest itself in high container prices or in stagnation in the supply of individual components.
Climate and environmental protection with animal nutrition in the nutrient cycle
Lahde made it clear that the use of optimal feed rations is an important contribution to climate protection. A particular challenge in the context of environmental policy is the objective of nutrient-reduced feeding. The feed industry has been offering appropriate solutions for many years and can thus make an important contribution to sustainable animal husbandry. A particularly important aspect is the closed-loop concept that the compound feed industry has been pursuing for decades: Around 41.5 percent of the raw materials used for compound feed are by-products from their processing. Many of these are also not suitable for human consumption. These products all flow back into the cycle.
Lahde views the planned supply chain law with concern. In his view, there are limits to the international trade in raw materials for agricultural products: "For our member companies, which are characterised by small and medium-sized enterprises, the arc is being stretched too far in this case. On the one hand, we can understand that there is a desire for greater traceability of the flow of goods. On the other hand, we can already point to the services we provide for the traceability of raw materials with a clear conscience."
In addition, the conflicting goals of feeding the animals, meeting their nutritional requirements and at the same time the environmental impacts must be made clear and balanced. It is obvious that the goals can only be achieved if economic efficiency is not disregarded.
Binding link between plant and animal production
"We manufacturers of animal feed are indispensable as an important link between plant and animal production. With our medium-sized businesses, we support farmers in producing high-quality animal food." Lahde stressed that the feed industry was an important part of the rural area. Agriculture and the products produced must continue to be valued. This requires good framework conditions, he said.
It remains to be seen how the various political strategies at federal and European level will affect the feed industry. A reduction in livestock numbers was on the cards. Lahde addressed the politicians: "In order for agriculture to be able to adapt, we expect concrete financing concepts together with the livestock farmers and, in particular, the resolution of conflicts in building and immission control law. Fast and consistent action is needed here to ensure planning security.