HUMAN consumption of animal proteins is forecast to grow by 1.7 per cent per annum, and will challenge the ability of the global stockfeed manufacturing sector to produce sufficient compound feed and remain sustainable.
This was the message from International Feed Industry Federation executive director, Alexandra de Athayde, a keynote speaker at this week’s Poultry Information Exchange and Australasian Milling Conference (PIX AMC) at the Gold Coast.
The forecast comes from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) 40-year projections to 2050 of annual growth in animal protein demand.
“The world has just surpassed one billion tonnes per year production of compound feed,” Ms de Athayde said.
“The United States, Europe, China and Brazil together produce about 65 per cent of world compound feed, of which Brazil has grown two-and-a-half times in the past 16 years, China about double, and the others more or less stagnant.”
Ms de Athayde said the Asia-Pacific region produced 360 million tonnes (Mt) of compound feed annually, while Australia’s production was about 9Mt.
Of all the animal-protein categories, Ms de Athayde said aqua-protein production in the past year had seen the greatest growth.
SunPork Group chairman, Robert van Barneveld, spoke to the conference about the challenges of matching pig supply to market growth in this intensive animal industry.
“We have a value chain that extends from genetics to retail,” Dr van Barneveld said.
The geographic spread of SunPork Group across Australia and New Zealand has a value chain which involves all aspects of production and processing.
This requires the company to manage factors as diverse as value-chain interruptions, such as the 2015 fire at Pinery, SA and the 2016 fire at its Kingaroy plant, access to well-trained staff, and changes to human diets trends.
“There’s lots of moving parts and they all have to interact, all the time.”
Volatility of farm profits was another topic well covered at the conference, and will continue to reshape dairy production, according to University of Sydney Centre for Veterinary Education industry specialist, Ian Lean.
“Agriculture has a 400-year economic trend towards diminished returns to farmers,” Dr Lean said.
“There is a critical need for Australian milk producers to capture more value in internal markets.
“The sole place that our farmers can inure themselves against the vagaries of the export market is in domestic sales.
“If we are able to extract proper dollar value from our internal market, then we have a buffer against the vagaries of the external market over which we have no control.”
Dr Lean discussed factors affecting profitability of dairy as a powerful series of economic cycles, and said the volatility of farm profits in 2003 and 2007 had caused many dairy farmers to exit the industry.
“While there are efficient farms in every category of farm type, the biggest drivers of exit are efficiency and indebtedness.”
He said small farms would remain, though in reduced numbers, and they would tap into niche markets, but their output could not form the backbone of the industry.
Dr Lean said larger pasture-based dairy farms were among the sector’s most viable, but opportunities for growth depended on previous investments in infrastructure; a useful life of such infrastructure around 25 years.
He said areas of growth existed in hybrid and TMR (total manufactured ration) dairies, as they were increasingly professionally run, and fed cattle custom-designed diets which were of increasing importance to productivity.
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