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Analysis outlines role of feed additives in livestock sustainability

Evonik shares research findings to help convey and clarify true cost of livestock production.

A new publication from Evonik and KPMG examines the impacts of poultry and swine production and outlines the potential societal benefits of using feed additives that reduce crude protein intake, according to an announcement from Evonik.

To build the case for the large-scale use of "innovative animal feed practices" — those that include specialized feed additives such as crystalline amino acids — Evonik partnered with finance and sustainability professionals at KPMG member firms to measure and evaluate the effects of livestock production, the announcement said.

The analysis, using the KPMG True Value methodology, compared the societal impacts of using so-called innovative animal feed versus conventional feed. It covered the economic, environmental and social impacts of meat production across the value chain, from the cultivation of crops for animal feed to animal husbandry, Evonik said.

The analysis was based on 2018 market shares of innovative feed in chicken production in Brazil and pork production in China and on the most advanced innovative feed composition available at the time. The team quantified the impacts in financial terms using valuation data selected from a wide range of sources.

The analysis assigned a financial value for each impact. Once this was established for each impact, the total value of impacts could be calculated for production using innovative animal feed and conventional feed. The two calculations revealed significant differences between the two types of feed in terms of their social and environmental impacts, Evonik said.

The analysis valued the environmental and social impacts of poultry production in Brazil at €1,345 per ton of live weight when conventional animal feed is used. The most significant impacts were land use to produce crops for animal feed and air pollution from chicken waste.

However, when innovative animal feed was used, the negative environmental and social impacts of chicken production were reduced by one-third, Evonik said. The biggest reductions were in land use and its effect on biodiversity, air pollution and the potential for soil acidification and pollution of waterways.

If innovative animal feed replaced conventional feed, the industry would create a net benefit of €85 per ton of live weight for Brazilian society, compared to a net cost of €180 per ton when using conventional feed, Evonik noted.

“The results clearly show a huge potential to positively influence societal value creation when using innovative animal feed and calls for transparency on the overall societal value creation of products,” said Martin G. Viehöver, senior manager sustainability services for KPMG in Germany.

The analysis of pig farming in China showed similar results, according to Evonik. Using innovative feed for pigs could have significant effects on the industry’s social and environmental impacts, potentially reducing the "true" price of pork by almost 12%.

“The results of this analysis could change perceptions within the livestock production industry. They could trigger meaningful dialogue across the value chain and help to shift farming towards more sustainable practices,” said Dr. Emmanuel Auer, head of animal nutrition at Evonik.

“We are sharing the results of this study widely with suppliers, customers, regulators, policy-makers, academics and others to help drive positive, sustainable change in the global livestock industry. Our goal is to generate engagement and debate around how the livestock industry can work together to address its social and environmental challenges,” Auer added.

Conventional animal feed is high in protein, which leads to high levels of nitrogen in animal waste. Evonik has developed amino acids for animal feed that help reduce animals’ protein intake, which, in turn, decreases the level of nitrogen excreted. The additives also improve the efficiency of the animals’ digestion, reducing the amount of food and water consumed and the amount of waste produced, the company said.

“We see this analysis as a tool to guide decision-making in innovation and product portfolio management to develop new products and services with a positive effect on society,” Auer said.

Evonik said it plans to expand the scope of its research to measure the impacts of its feed in other major poultry and swine production regions as well as in the dairy and aquaculture sectors.

Download the publication at evonik.com/building-the-case-for-innovative-animal-feed.

TAGS: Poultry Swine
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