With the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy, the European Commission has brought into the spotlight the importance of specialty feed ingredients for the achievement of its ambitious goals, as well as for addressing society’s current priorities and needs. This includes the reduction of the environmental footprint of livestock farming, animal welfare, as well as the contribution to the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
Europe has a pioneering position in the world feed industry, especially in terms of new trends and legal regulations. Many countries around the world pay attention to aligning their local legislation with those of the European Commission. Among the important trends of today, which are also reflected in legal regulations, there are extremely remarkable and vital issues such as antibiotic-free production, sustainability, environmental footprint, carbon emissions, alternative proteins, feed safety and animal welfare.
So, which of these issues will be the main agenda of the European feed and additives industry in 2022? Does the feed additives industry, which is at the center of all these trends, offer solutions that can answer the question “How”? Chiara Bellone de Grecis, Communications Manager of FEFANA, one of the most important trade associations of the additives and ingredients industry in Europe, offers us some tips on this subject. Details are in our interview with Ms. Bellone de Grecis…
Dear Chiara, before we move on to questions about the feed industry, can we talk a little bit about FEFANA? Can you explain the mission and goals of FEFANA? What is FEFANA’s role in the feed industry? Who are its members?
FEFANA is the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures. Our membership currently counts 93 companies of which approximately 2/3 are SMEs. It comprises producers and traders of feed additives, functional feed ingredients, premixes and other mixtures of specialty feed ingredients that enter the food chain via feed.
Centered in the heart of Brussels, FEFANA’s role is that of facilitating the dialogue between EU institutions and feed business operators, while at the same time promoting the benefits of specialty feed ingredients for a safe and sustainable food chain. FEFANA’s goal is to achieve a proportionate and predictable EU regulatory framework fostering innovation and competitiveness for the European specialty feed ingredients industry in a global market.
Animal nutrition and feed industries have been at the center of a very busy agenda in recent years, such as antibiotic-free production, sustainability, environmental footprint, carbon emissions, alternative proteins, feed safety and animal welfare. Which of these and similar issues do you think will be at the forefront of the 2022 agenda of the European feed industry, which pioneers the world’s trends in many issues?
Indeed, with the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy, the European Commission has brought into the spotlight the importance of specialty feed ingredients for the achievement of its ambitious goals, as well as for addressing society’s current priorities and needs. This includes the reduction of the environmental footprint of livestock farming, animal welfare, as well as the contribution to the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
This has come as an important recognition for the specialty feed ingredients industry which, until this moment, had been mostly unknown to people outside the agricultural sector.
The Commission has also gone one step further by including the Revision of the EU Feed Additives Regulation in the Farm to Fork action plan itself (“Modernisation of the EU Rules on Feed Additives”). The Commission’s aim with this project is to modernise the regulation to facilitate the placing on the market of innovative feed ingredients, the role of which is beneficial to the achievement of a more sustainable agri-food system.
The revision of the feed additives regulation and the potential of specialty feed ingredients for the challenges outlined above, are two strictly correlated items which are at the top of the industry’s agenda for the coming year.
Let’s go into some more details and continue with the issue of sustainability. What does sustainability mean in the animal nutrition industry? What should be done for sustainable animal production and what is the place and role of feed ingredients/additives in this process?
The specialty feed ingredients industry is an innovation-driven sector which has long been dedicated to limiting the environmental impact of animal farming activities.
Sustainability has many declinations. Certain specialty feed ingredients prolong the shelf-life of feed products, thus avoiding spoilage and losses. This maximises the use of feed without the need to resort to additional resources. Others improve feed efficiency, thereby reducing the emission intensity of milk, meat, and eggs. Finally, other ingredients allow for the use of by-products of the food industry as feed, with this contributing to a circular economy.
The specialty feed ingredients industry is thus an important ally for an efficient and environmentally friendly food system. Nevertheless, policy makers must not forget that this sector is just one small part of the whole agri-food chain. The ambitious goals set by the Farm to Fork strategy can solely be achieved with a holistic approach, looking at the impacts on, as well as the complexities and needs of each actor in the system and offering them the tools to unleash their potential – from the input suppliers to the farmers.
The EU aims to zero its carbon emissions by 2050. The livestock industry is also considered to have a significant share in carbon emissions. Can feed ingredients make an effective contribution to reducing methane emissions and carbon emissions?
Specialty feed ingredients have been scientifically proven to contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions. Through Life Cycle Assessments it has been demonstrated that these ingredients can positively support the reduction of the environmental footprint of animal farming in different ways. The Specialty Feed Ingredients Sustainability Project, led by FEFANA and the IFIF, has investigated these effects for a variety of specialty feed ingredients. The research demonstrated that the use of such ingredients can cut Global Warming Potential by up to 15%, phosphorus emissions by up to 30% and nitrogen emissions by up to 50%. This means a significant reduction of emission-related impacts on the environment, such as the reduction of excretion of excess nutrients, and eutrophication and acidification potentials.
Largely based on the work of the IFIF-FEFANA SFIS Project, on 21 September FAO has officially launched the LEAP guidelines for assessment of the environmental performance of feed additives in livestock supply chains. The document stresses how by significantly acting on feed efficiency, specialty feed ingredients influence the environmental footprint of livestock production.
What would you like to add about other issues that you consider important to the animal nutrition industry?
We must make the most out of the opportunity given by the Modernisation of the EU Rules on Feed Additives, action point of the Farm to Fork Strategy.
The current EU legislative framework assures feed and food safety but needs to provide an improved setup to encourage research and development, while ensuring return on investment and protection of innovation.
While the European Commission has already recognized certain of these aspects, there are still several items which need to be given greater emphasis. Examples include: the recognition of feed additives’ contribution in reducing the need for the use of antibiotics, which in turn contributes to the fight against antimicrobial resistance, the possibility of communicating innovative benefits via claims, easing the bureaucratic burden of lengthy authorization procedures, and more.
FEFANA and its members are actively involved in making sure that these and other elements be addressed in the on-going process of the revision of this key regulation for the animal nutrition industry, as well as the agri-food chain as a whole.