Bells (wedding), bans (Russian), bikes, balls and lots of regulation - it's the readers' year in review

2015 has been a very tough year for livestock farmers across Europe, says FEFAC president © istock.com/ymgerman

In festive mood, we asked you, the readers, to review the past 12 months from both a business and a personal perspective. 

André Brand, global poultry portfolio manager at Trouw Nutrition, was the first to train his eyes on events in 2015 for us. He said the year was one of transformation. 

“Nutreco changed ownership and delisted, and a lot of effort was put in further strengthening Trouw Nutrition as our global animal nutrition brand. 

“For me, personally, this year was exciting and pivotal as well. We gained a lot of business traction with our modular precision feeding system, NutriOpt. To achieve this success, quite a lot of traveling was involved. 

© istock.com/Nojman

“At the same time I did manage to start a new hobby. Having lived in Asia for the better part of the past ten years, I was mostly reliant on running as physical exercise. But I recently exchanged my running shoes for a mountain bike. And I quite like it. I even joined a local racing club and am one of their loyal members on Saturday mornings regardless of the weather. 

Ruud Tijssens, president of the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC), said an important development in 2015 was the publication of the reshaped FEFAC vision on feed safety management.  

“It was a great honor for me to present its outline personally to European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, when we took him on a field trip through Belgium in September this year. 

"As regards sustainability, we saw the launch of the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines together with the ITC online benchmark tool, which we expect to have a significant impact on the future supply of ‘responsible’ soy to Europe.

"On the other hand, 2015 has been a very tough year for livestock farmers across Europe, with particularly prices of milk and pig meat reaching such low levels that they are threatened in their existence. One of my wishes for the coming year is that those markets will get on their feet again so also feed manufacturers can feel some relieve and feel confident about the future of livestock farming in Europe.”

© istock.com/eclipsedi

For FEFAC public relations advisor, Anton van den Brink, 2015 was one where he achieved more than one milestone. “This year has been quite a defining year of adulthood for me, getting married and turning 30. I’ve been working in Brussels for FEFAC and EFFPA for nearly three years now, which has been great for learning French, but it is embarrassing to hear my Dutch accent giving way to a Flemish way of pronunciation. Professionally speaking I notice I’m becoming part of the feed family more and more, though I feel that there is still a lot for me to learn.”

Gary Huddleston joined the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) in 2015 as manager of feed manufacturing, safety and environmental affairs, after 30-plus year in a feed mill setting.

"Having worked on the industry side of animal feed for 31 years, making the jump this year to represent the industry as part of the AFIA was a significant, but exciting, change. 

“When I accepted the role at AFIA, I knew I could use my plant experience to assist members in understanding regulatory issues and helping them implement practical solutions. My desire is to use my experience and passion for the feed business to help AFIA have a positive effect on the industry. My experience also brings something unique to the table as a staff expert at AFIA. 

“Seeing industry from this side of the fence for the first time has given me more of a 30,000 foot viewpoint. AFIA considers how it affects the industry, and its membership, and before I was more concerned with how a regulation impacted my individual facility or our company. 

© istock.com/Yuriv Tsirkunov

“Another change is the knowledge I'm gaining in the various aspects of the industry, from feed equipment manufacturers to ingredient suppliers as opposed to only being focused on manufacturing. The same goes for knowledge about government agencies and the regulations they control. 

"I am excited to see what 2016 brings, both to the industry and, to me, as part of the AFIA team."

Trudy van Megen, who runs the Feed Design Lab in the Netherlands, said the last 12 months have been “very exciting.” 

“Feed Design Lab opened in 2014, so 2015 was the first full year, and more than 70 companies jumped in as partners - all with their own motivation but all connected by an equal ambition: a sustainable feed industry. We organized several business events to discuss this ambition and to decide which projects to take forward. 

“We also invited four scientists to advise our partners on the availability, benefits and risks of over ten promising new feed resources. These consultations have resulted in the development of five start-up projects on new technology, new resources, upgrading old resources and rediscovering existing European protein crops. 

“In the near future the feed industry will be forced to actively search for new raw materials, rich in proteins and energy. As a result, one of the first research initiatives this year involved the addition of wet resources to dry compound feed. Algae, tomatoes and apple pulp were blended and added to the conditioner to enable efficient use without supplementary drying costs. Performance tests with poultry are in progress.” 

Andrew Knowles, marketing director for pigs at Dutch feed group, ForFarmers, said 2015 was a year of huge challenges for the European pig sector resulting from a tough retailing environment and geopolitical developments. 

“The launch of the new VIDA piglet feed concept in autumn 2015 was aimed at helping an EU pig market in difficulty – [it involves] innovative raw materials and formulations derived from our strategic partnership with Trouw Nutrition along with dedicated feed production processes to deliver quality and consistency. [This feed concept], coupled with specialist on-farm piglet nutritional advisors, is how Forfarmers is delivering game changing pig performance at a time when it is needed more than ever by our customers. 

“Personally I will remember 2015 as a year when I had the good fortune to be able to join the passionate, dedicated and highly professional ForFarmers team. It was also a year when I had the immense honor of receiving the David Black Award for my work in the UK pig industry. 

“And a year when I fulfilled a promise to my two young children for us to all sleep under the stars in their tree house one summers night.” 

Nilton Perez, South America area director at InVivo NSA, reported on how the integration of Total Alimentos is progressing. The French animal nutrition company acquired the Brazilian pet food, dairy, equine and fish feed firm in October 2014. 

“We spent the year integrating Total into InVivo NSA, so the process is well underway. But full integration won’t be realized for another two years, I would say. We are investing in capacity at Total – in terms of both the complete feed and pet food manufacturing output. On the complete feed side, that will involve CAPEX of between €7m to €10m. 

“It has been a tough year in terms of the macro economic climate in Brazil though, and the economy is expected to contract around 3.5% this year. 

“The Brazilian dairy sector, like the global market, has been depressed. We have generally been defending our position in that segment throughout 2015, but, with a correction in the price of raw materials, we expect an upturn in dairy feed in 2016. 

“Despite the recession, the pet food side of Total continued to perform well this year. And our aqua feed business in Brazil has been expanding – aping the 10 to 15% annual growth rate trend there. 

For me, personally, there was little change on the family front, but 2015 was definitely about building relationships with the 1,500 new employees at Total, and ensuring all the teams were integrated into the InVivo NSA business culture.”

Piet van der Aar, research director at Schothorst Feed Research (SFR), in the Netherlands, said 2015 was a positive year, from both a business and personal standpoint.

“SFR continued to develop this year - the number of customers increased and, at now, coming to the end of 2015, the feed companies that have knowledge agreements with SFR represent more than 8% of the global feed manufacturing industry. 

Extensive projects about a new energy evaluation system for pigs got underway at the center, and [we have also been developing] new challenge models to study the interaction between infection and nutrition. 

© istock.com/FrankRamspott

In the Netherlands, in 2015, new legislation in relation to research trials with animals became effective. We had to deal with that. It would appear the interpretation of EU regulation by the Dutch authorities is stricter than in other countries. We have implemented all the new procedures needed, and together with updated facilities that comply with EU guidelines for the housing of animals used for feeding trials, we are ready for the next decade. 

Societal demands regarding livestock production systems are increasing. Often, these demands conflict with each other — eco footprint versus welfare. The contribution of nutrition to a solution to these dilemmas will be the dominant research themes of SFR over the next years. 

On the personal front, I had hip surgery at the beginning of the year, which has been quite successful. I can walk without pain and play tennis again.”

For the US National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), much of 2015 centered on the development of final rules for the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), said its president, Randy Gordon

We are “breathing a sigh [of relief] that most of the major rule makings under FSMA are done and we can turn toward the implementation phase,” he said. 

However, he said, his organization appreciated the work the FDA did to include industry viewpoints and voices when putting the rules together. 

“They did a great job of listening and having interactions, and being as outcome-based as possible,” he said. “By the same token, that took lots of work from all of us.”

For US firm, Diamond V, 2015 focused on growth, new research and technology, and adding to its product lineup, said Jeff Cannon, president and CEO.

The Iowa-based company expanded its processing, packaging and shipping abilities, along with introducing a Next Generation product for dairy calves called SmartCare, he said. 

Diamond V also continued its research into ways to improve food safety, he said, and filed a patent for the use of one of its products to reduce foodborne pathogens in livestock. 

The company presented several abstracts and technical papers at conferences that included meetings of the International Poultry Scientific Forum, American Dairy Science Association, and the American Association of Animal Science, he told us. 

Additionally, the company established the Diamond V Dairy Resources App to offer online tools for dairy producers and consultants, said Cannon.

The review of the year from David Drew, managing director of South African insect to feed producer, AgriProtein, was quite reflective in tone:

“I spend more time at work that at home, and so my ‘work family’ is vital to me — the integrity, the fun, the good and the bad — that enables our business. We are just under 70 people in the work family and it is an extremely tight unit, yet diverse in almost every measure. 

© istock.com/Maxemillion

“This year our team has physically built the dream, used spades and spanners to build what we had envisioned - a waste to protein business powered by insects, capable of processing 100 tons of organic waste a day into 10 tons of high value protein and byproducts.

“2016 will be a big change as we focus on delivering quality product to our customers and not in building and commissioning. 

“My home family is where I am privileged to be when not at work, with my four terrible boys, and fabulous wife – it’s an unusual mix with three eight year olds and their toddler brother. They drain all my energy and give me all my strength!”

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