Common ground makes strong


Animal husbandry is being viewed critically. Demands are increasing, and a reduction in meat consumption is being called for in many cases. This not only puts pressure on livestock farmers, but also challenges the compound feed industry, and the corporate strategies are diverse: an overview of the top ten in Germany.

German compound feed producers have been struggling with overcapacity and predatory competition for some time. The increasing requirements in terms of animal welfare and environmental protection are also putting pressure on livestock farmers. Almost a third of livestock farmers have given up in the past ten years, and this is putting pressure on compound feed sales.

We will see compound feed operations go out of business.
Ulrich Arning, Geschäftsführer Bereich Produktion/Administration, Deutsche Tiernahrung Cremer

Despite the structural changes in agriculture and societal changes, most compound feed producers have so far managed to slightly expand or at least stabilize their production. German compound feed production, for example, has remained largely stable in recent years at an average of 23.8 to 23.9 million tons. Within the ranking of the ten most important compound feed producers in Germany, almost nothing has changed either. The companies' responses to the challenges, the declining market and structural change are diverse.

Strengthening through acquisitions and cooperations

For example, the top dog, Agravis AG, with a compound feed production of around 4.9 million tons, including its affiliated companies in Germany and abroad, is focusing on optimizing processes within the company on the one hand and cooperating with cooperative partners on the other. Only recently, Agravis Mischfutter Ostwestfalen-Lippe GmbH, Agravis Westfalen-Hessen GmbH, both group companies of Agravis Raiffeisen AG, as well as Raiffeisen Lippe-Weser AG and Raiffeisen Lübbecker Land AG founded a joint forwarding company for the transport of compound feed, Raiffeisen Transport Gesellschaft Minden GmbH (RTG). The aim is to supply farmers between northern Hesse in the south and the Dümmer region in the north even more efficiently.
Agravis Raiffeisen AG
Agravis Raiffeisen AG, headquartered in Münster, is one of a total of five main agricultural cooperatives in Germany and one of the largest agricultural trading companies in northern Germany. It focuses on the agricultural divisions of Crop, Livestock, Agricultural Equipment, Markets and Energy. In the Animals Business Area, the Agravis Group produces and sells compound feed, specialty feed products, veterinary medicines and products for animal and stable hygiene.

Compound feed production: 4.9 million t incl. associated companies (3.2 million t without)
- Pig approx. 37%
- Cattle approx. 36%
- Poultry approx. 21%
- Organic feed: 70.000 t

Distribution: Largely within the cooperative two-tier system; in regions without cooperatives, especially in eastern Germany, direct distribution to farms takes place
Catchment area: Germany-wide, with a focus on the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. Foreign markets are also served via production sites of associated companies.

Agravis has also strengthened its market position in the compound feed segment by taking over the Neuss and Wiesbaden production sites from RWZ Rhein-Main eG with a production volume of 300,000 t in July 2017. Processes have also been optimized and clout increased on the sales track, for example by founding Agravis Mischfutter West GmbH in 2020 and bundling the poultry feed business in GiG Geflügel GmbH in May 2021. In addition, Agravis is also involved in the production of organic feed through its affiliated companies Biomühle Hamaland GmbH (Gescher) and Ceravis GmbH at the Malchin site.

Agravis' stated goal: to maintain production volumes in the face of declining markets. Agravis sees growth potential, for example, in the poultry segment for laying hens or also through the expansion of the organic segment in the Group company biovis agrar GmbH, in which all services for organic farming are bundled.

Deutsche Tiernahrung Cremer (DTC) GmbH & Co.KG, the largest private compound feed producer, has also strengthened its market position with acquisitions. Between 2015 and 2020, DTC purchased the plant in Neuss with a capacity of 350,000 tons from the Dutch cooperative Agrifirm and took over the plants of Raiffeisen Kraftfutterwerke (RKW) Süd. In addition, the DTC site in Worms was sold. As a result, Deutsche Tiernahrung Cremer was able to continuously increase its production and sales volumes - especially in the fast-growing pet food sector.

The pet sector is becoming increasingly important in relation to the other feeding segments. DTC sees growth potential here. In addition, DTC has added mineral feed to its range, sales of which have been growing steadily ever since, according to the company.
German Pet Food Cremer GmbH & Co.KG
Deutsche Tiernahrung Cremer GmbH & Co. KG, a company of Peter Cremer Holding GmbH & Co.KG, is a manufacturer of compound feed based in Düsseldorf. Since 2007, the company has been the merger of the companies deuka Deutsche Tiernahrung GmbH & Co. KG and Cremer Futtermühlen GmbH under the umbrella of the Cremer Group. The core business is the production of compound feed for all types of livestock. At the same time, the range includes feed programs for pets and hobby animals.

Compound feed production: 2.76 million t
- 40% cattle
- 33% pork
- 20% poultry
- Organic feed: none

Distribution: Two-tier distribution model with partners in land-based retail.
Catchment area: Land trade partners in all regions of Germany except the three northern states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Hamburg. With the exception of Denmark, all German neighboring states are supplied.

Nevertheless, DTC expects further consolidation in the industry. "We will see compound feed companies going out of business. There will be cooperative ventures among the high-performing compound feed operations. At the same time, subsectors in the animal feed segment are growing significantly and the further development of the raw material base and its refinement will also remain an interesting field," explains Ulrich Arning, Managing Director of Production/Administration.
Continuous innovations as well as feed and consulting concepts will be decisive for economic success.
Dr. Heinrich Kleine Klausing, Geschäftsführer Bereich Produktkonzeption/Mineralfutter, Deutsche Tiernahrung Cremer

picture alliance / Hans-Joachim Rech

For the Bröring Group of Companies, quality, innovation and customer proximity are what count most in order to continue growing. "With high-quality products and very good advice, we want to continue to convince our agricultural customers of us," says Bernd Bröring, Managing Director of H. Bröring GmbH & Co.KG. In addition to organic growth, however, the group of companies has also secured production capacity and know-how through acquisitions, such as the purchase of the Losten plant from Agrifirm in 2017 and the takeover of Boerries GmbH & o.KG, a leading manufacturer and distributor of special feeds for piglets, in 2019. Both companies intend to combine strengths in their respective specialized areas.
Bröring Group of Companies
The group of companies includes H. Bröring GmbH & Co. KG, Haneberg & Leusing GmbH & Co. KG, BÖRRIES GmbH & Co. KG and BEST 3 Geflügelernährung GmbH. Bröring, which has been in family hands for four generations, operates 13 land trading bases in its sales territory, through which more than 200,000 tons of grain are collected annually. The group produces compound feed at nine locations.

Compoundfeed production: 2 million t
- 45% poultry
- 41% pork
- 14% cattle
- Organic feed: none

Sales: direct sales to the agricultural sector with own sales and consulting
Catchment area: Northern Germany

In addition, Bröring has also been involved with barn construction with a view to increasing animal welfare requirements. Together with the barn fitter Big Dutchman from Vechta, Bröring has developed a new type of straw barn housing system for pigs called Xaletto for animal-friendly and environmentally friendly pig farming and piglet rearing.

Specialize or position themselves more broadly

For the German organization of For Farmers, the first thing on the agenda is increasing efficiency. The new Managing Director Ernst Friedlaender is focusing on organic growth, wants to optimize internal business processes and concentrate on cost efficiency. Externally, innovative concepts, more digitalization and even better customer service are expected to bring growth.
For Farmers
The Dutch company For Farmers, which was founded in 1896 as a cooperative, is today represented in Belgium, Poland, Great Britain, and Germany in addition to the Netherlands as its headquarters. The product range includes cattle, pig and poultry feed as well as specialties and special feed for young animals through to by-products. In total, the internationally active group produces 10 million tons of compound feed. In Germany, For Farmers is represented at eight locations.

Compound feed production: 2.18 million t in 2020 in the Germany/Poland cluster
(2017 production in Germany 1.5 million t)
- cattle, pigs, poultry

Distribution: Direct to the farmer and via agricultural retailers
Catchment area: Northern and Western Germany, Brandenburg and Saxony
"Through the international For Farmers Group, we will also focus on growth through acquisitions in our home markets and in two new growth markets, possibly outside Europe," Friedlaender explains. He also sees growth areas in certain market segments, such as large farms with automatic milking systems, sales of more specialty products and organic feed concepts. Furthermore, For Farmers is looking at alternative proteins to replace imported soy in poultry and pig feed.

Mega Tierernährung GmbH & Co.KG, a company of the PHW Group and supplier to Wiesenhof, has once again taken a path of its own. Back in 2007, the company specialized in the production of poultry feed and discontinued other segments. Five compound feed plants produce around 1.2 million tons of feed for chickens, broilers, ducks, turkeys and laying hens each year. In addition, the company has broadened its activities and has its own parent stock and hatcheries, operates its own slaughterhouses and feed mills.

Under the PHW Group umbrella, the use of alternative protein sources such as insect protein in poultry feed is also being explored. A key step in this direction has been taken via a stake in the Canadian Enterra Feed Corporation, which extracts protein-rich feed components from the larvae of the black soldier fly.
The specialization of farms is increasing. There is no simple strategy for the future.
Josef Abeling, Geschäftsführer Fleming + Wendeln GmbH & CO.KG

In addition to feed production, the Rothkötter Group has also positioned itself more broadly along the poultry value chain.
Rothkötter Group of Companies
The Rothkötter Group includes, among others, the three Rothkötter compound feed plants in Meppen, Haren and Boizenburg, the Emsland hatchery in Dohren and the two chicken processing plants Emsland Frischgeflügel in Haren and Celler Land Frischgeflügel in Wietze. The Landgeflügel sales company is responsible for the distribution and logistics of fresh and frozen chicken meat products. According to the company, its customer base includes around 900 family farms.

Compound feed production: 1.15 million t.
- 60% poultry (broilers and parents)
- 40% pigs (breeding, piglets and fattening)
- Organic feed: none

Distribution: Poultry feed: ex-works delivery with own truck fleet for own vertical integration (broilers and parents at contract farmers); pig feed: ex-works delivery with own truck fleet for the open market.
Catchment area: Northern Germany

For example, since 2003 the Rothkötter Group has operated the Emsland hatchery in Dohren as well as the two chicken processing plants Emsland Frischgeflügel in Haren and Celler Land Frischgeflügel in Wietze, which was added in 2011. The Landgeflügel sales company is responsible for the distribution and logistics of fresh and frozen chicken meat products. The compound feed production for pig and poultry feed was also expanded. Rothkötter now operates three compound feed plants at the Meppen, Haren and Boizenburg sites. The plant in Boizenburg was commissioned in 2018.

Diversify and use individual strengths

ATR Landhandel GmbH & Co.KG focuses on qualitative growth, process optimization and investments in the animal feed segment. For example, specialized young animal feeding now plays a much greater role, especially for pigs, and other areas such as laying meal production have now been expanded to four locations, according to ATR. To meet future demands for animal health and welfare, ATR believes these factors must be taken into account in the further development of feeding concepts. An own mineral feed and employment material production has recently expanded the portfolio and represents an important basis to grow further through diversification, ATR says.
ATR Landhandels GmbH & Co.KG
Under the umbrella of ATR Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH are ATR Landhandel GmbH & Co.KG and ATR Futtermittel GmbH & Co.KG, based in Ratzeburg, and numerous subsidiaries in Poland and Denmark, among other countries. ATR Landhandel in its present form was created in 1999 from mergers of the three traditional agricultural traders Arp, Thordsen and Rautenberg. In addition to the classic agricultural trading business with operating resources and the collection and trading of grain and oilseeds, ATR also produces animal feed in Germany and Denmark.

Compound feed production: 960,000 t (in Germany and Denmark)
- 50% pigs
- 40% cattle
- 10% poultry
- Organic feed: none yet

Sales: almost exclusively direct customer business; some special products are also sold to resellers outside the core business area via the group subsidiary
Catchment area: core area for bulk compound feed is Schleswig-Holstein, the new federal states and northeastern Lower Saxony; at the production site in Aarhus, Denmark, ATR has a nationwide presence.

The company was recently strengthened by the merger of ATR Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH with Beiselen Holding GmbH to form BAT Agrar GmbH. As a result, both companies are joining forces in the purchase of operating resources and expect synergies above all in sales, digitalization and logistics. Both companies are focusing on expanding their individual strengths. Thus, the wholesale business is located at Beiselen. ATR Futtermittel and ATR Landhandel specialize in direct business with agriculture. ATR also has its eye on the production of organic feed as a possible further field of activity. With BAT, which this summer acquired a 24 percent stake in Bio Kontor GmbH, a producer group operating throughout Germany, the conditions are good for developing another mainstay.

Fleming + Wendeln, with its Feed, Agricultural Trade Services and Fuels divisions, is an almost classic agricultural trading company that is close to agricultural customers and very closely aligned to their needs.
Fleming + Wendeln GmbH & Co.KG
Fleming + Wendeln, with its four business units Agricultural Trade, Feed, Services (nutrient exchange, container service or the rental of fertilizer spreaders) and Fuels, supplies agricultural businesses with operating resources as well as other supplies related to arable farming and animal husbandry. The company also produces toasted soybeans, wheat and corn flakes.

Compound feed production: 850,000 t
- 63% pigs
- 22% cattle and horses incl. others
- 15% poultry
- Organic feed: none

Distribution: Direct to customer
Catchment area: Weser-Emsregion and part of Leipzig in the new German states
"Our core business is the production and direct distribution of our products to our customers. Farm specialization is increasing. There is no simple strategy for the future for us," explains Managing Director Josef Abeling, "constant adjustments to the requirements of the market demand a high degree of flexibility and the timely development of solutions from our customers and thus ultimately from us as well."

Over the past few years, the HaGe Group has primarily focused on optimizing internal processes, the product range and the cost structure. No acquisitions or divestments have been made. HaGe's Feed Business Area has thus stabilized and developed solidly. Nevertheless, HaGe CEO Henrik Madsen also sees strategic challenges in the future: "The fact that animal husbandry in Germany may decline is unfortunately a realistic scenario. We expect the decline to be more pronounced outside our area of operation. Nevertheless, we can expect growing overcapacity in Germany. While we see our plants and cost structure as promising for the future, we are not blind to the fact that capacity optimization must be taken into account across the company."
HaGe Group
Hauptgenossenschaft Nord AG, based in Kiel, is one of the largest agricultural trading groups in northern Germany. Half of its sales are generated by the collection and trading of grain, rapeseed and pulses, followed by the plant operating resources division with just under 32%. The feed division accounts for 18.5% of sales, which totaled €2.2 billion in 2020. HaGe operates four compound feed plants and holds a 50% stake in Habema Futtermittel GmbH & Co.KG, Hamburg.

Compound feed production: 800,000 t
- 40% cattle
- 35% pigs
- 25% poultry
- Organic feed: slightly below 5%

Distribution: for the most part via land-based business directly to the agricultural sector
Catchment area: Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and in the northern part of Brandenburg and Lower Saxony
The Group sees growth prospects in organic feed, organic seed and traditional agricultural trade in organic products through its holdings in Gut Rosenkranz Biofutter GmbH &Co.KG, Neumünster, and Gut Rosenkranz Handelsgesellschaft für Naturprodukte.

GS agri eG is focusing on boosting efficiency, jointly establishing digital distribution channels, and pooling expertise as a cooperative. GS agri eG and Landwirtschaftliche Bezugsgenossenschaft eG Damme, for example, are planning an alliance. In the future, they want to work together in feed production, digitization, and nutrient management to combine the advantages of independence with the benefits of a strategic alliance. Furthermore, the two cooperatives want to join forces in terms of consulting, technology and documentation and open up digital distribution channels.
GS Agri eG
GS agri eG, based in Schneiderkrug, was founded in 1881 by farmers for farmers. In the future, the cooperative will operate under the brand name GS. GS agri will be retained as a competence brand, but will exclusively describe the conventional compound feed and arable farming sectors. The organic division will operate under the GS bio competence brand.

Compound feed production: around 660,000 t (GS agri, GS bio and the subsidiary Bio Eichenmühle)
- pigs, turkeys, cattle, laying hens, broilers, ducks, sheep, rabbits and horses (sorted in descending order)
- Organic feed: approx. 13% with an upward trend

Sales: Largely via field sales force in direct sales, supported by own agricultural branches, a network of home & garden markets
Catchment area: Roughly outlined Weser-Ems area and beyond

GS Agri's focus is "clearly on qualitative growth" in the organic, young animal and special feed segments, for example. Sales of organic compound feed grew strongly in 2020, especially in the poultry segment. The organic compound feed segment has thus evolved from what was once a market niche into an established business area, according to the latest annual report. "We are facing a challenging future," Bernd Rötgers, GS division manager for compound feed and authorized signatory, is certain.

The market will continue to concentrate and consolidate, as has already happened in the agricultural trade. All compound feed producers agree on this and will have to face these developments again and again in the future.