Analyzing today’s consumer to gauge future feed demand

At the intersection of animal protein consumption, consumer demands and macro agrifood trends, you will find animal feed manufacturers navigating the highs and lows of a changing production landscape.

In response, the Feed Strategy Conference, co-located with 2020 edition of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE), will provide animal feed and poultry industry professionals with forward-looking perspectives and insights necessary for maintaining future growth and profitability.

The half-day event, held on January 29, 2020, will examine the consumer and protein market trends poised to impact short- and long-term poultry meat and feed production.

This forum for knowledge exchange features speakers with unique animal agriculture insights. Attendees will leave with a keen awareness of the issues and challenges facing the animal protein sector

For example, CoBank’s lead animal protein economist, Will Sawyer, will delve into the global issues affecting supply and demand for poultry meat and other commodities in 2020. In addition, his talk will examine the factors influencing grain costs and feed production to help industry stakeholders plan for the year ahead.

Rabobank’s RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness executive director of animal protein Christine McCracken will explore the growth of plant-based animal protein alternatives, its appeal to consumers, and provide insight into what poultry and meat producers can expect in the future.

Drawing from the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, Chris Dubios, IRI’s senior vice president – protein practice, will tap into the data firm’s exclusive market intelligence to explore current and future U.S. consumer poultry purchasing behaviors as they relate to antibiotic-free production, slow-growth broilers and feeding specifications.

Looking to the future, Aidan Connolly, president of AgriTech Capital and CEO of Cainthus, will explore how new technologies now in their infancy will shape how poultry is raised and poultry feed formulation over the next three decades. During his talk, Connolly will identify which of the developing technologies are the most technically feasible, economically practical and acceptable to consumers.

To round out the program, four feed industry stakeholders will gather to discuss the issues critical to 2020 poultry feed production. This discussion will encompass challenges like antibiotic-free production to ensuring feed safety.

Registration for the Feed Strategy Conference is open; however, note that you must register to attend IPPE 2020 first.

Ag tech acquisitions hold key to additive innovation

Incoming Novus International President and CEO Dan Meagher discusses strategy for the future

While attending 2020 edition of the International Processing & Production Expo (IPPE), I met with Novus International’s incoming president and CEO, Dan Meagher. Drawing from his long and varied career in the poultry and feed industries, it’s apparent he has his sights set on leading the company into the future.

Meagher, who previously served as Novus’s president of global animal nutrition solutions from 2007 to 2013, brings a clear vision for how the company will grow and bring new innovations online moving forward: strategic acquisitions.

“There is an immense amount of money now funneling into ag tech which is, in my opinion, an indication of the number of projects and technologies coming forward in concept that I think [Novus] has an opportunity to start evaluating,” he says.

Meagher aims to identify and invest in opportunities that will add value for customers and have the potential to “become a foundation for the R&D group to continue to develop new products that will make a difference in the marketplace.”

He believes this type of investment holds the most promise, as appropriate transitional acquisitions are rare.

“We’re looking for the right technologies, ones that have already been de-risked, and fit the platforms that align with our strengths – gut health, immunity, nutrition – to find the ones that compliment what we already have,” he says. “If you find the right technologies, they should be able to generate additional products and solutions to strengthen R&D so we’re a step ahead rather than investing five years to hope we hit on the right concept to go forward.”

According to Meagher, effort will be put into technology assessment and scouting.

“They’re out there, you just have to find them and accelerate them to the marketplace,” he says.

Enhancing strengths

Meagher believes the company’s HMTBa molecule, the foundation of the company’s core product lines, can be enhanced by these new technologies with “immediate impacts in the eubiotics area.”

“I still think enzymes are an immature market from a standpoint that there are still a lot of opportunities with dosing levels and on blends and different things as they relate to gut health, immunity and digestibility,” he says.

In his new role, he plans to review the company’s existing portfolio to evaluate and shed areas that are not strategic or enhance the company’s strengths.

Drawing from experience

Among his other goals, Meagher plans to align the leadership team’s goals to prepare for the future and instill a “culture of entrepreneurial flair.”

“When you have a change in leadership, it’s an opportunity to ensure there’s clarity about the importance of the future, where we’re going and the role that the employees play,” he says.

Most recently, Meagher was the president and CEO of animal nutrition and health company Agrivida Inc. He has also served in executive management positions with egg producer Moark LLC, startup MBA Poultry LLC and in various positions with Purina Mills.

Novus’s current president and CEO François Fraudeau is retiring after 28 years.

Meagher officially assumes his new position in April 2020.

Broiler production, feed demand continues to rise

Global animal feed production decreased by 1.07% to 1.126 billion metric tons in 2019 – the first decline in nearly a decade, Alltech reported in its annual Global Feed Survey. The drop is attributed to the impact of African swine fever (ASF) and the related decrease in swine feed production, which fell by 11% globally, but by more than 26% in Southeast Asia.

Despite the challenges of ASF, broiler demand and production proved the bright spot worldwide. Broiler feed production accounted for 28% of total global feed production in 2019, a segment that increased by 3%.

While pork currently outranks chicken as the world’s most popular meat, Alltech vice president Matthew Smith feels ASF will “propel us to that cross over point where the world will consume more poultry.”

“The Food and Agriculture Organization told us that would happen sometime in the next 10 years, but I think we are going to hit that much more quickly,” Smith said during the feed survey’s panel discussion.

The results of WATT Global Media’s 2020 Poultry Nutrition & Feed Survey align with this claim. Thirty-six percent of global survey respondents report that their company is planning to ramp up its poultry and poultry feed production this year due to ASF’s impact on protein supplies and added demand; and 23% feel the impact of ASF has contributed positively to their company’s profitability over the last 12 months and beyond.

Chicken meat trends

Beyond the general demand for alternative animal proteins, given high pork prices and a tightened supply, another consumer trend is influencing the chicken boom: processed foods.

“Asian consumers, for example, want more processed foods and it’s easier to utilize chicken meat than pork,” explains Dr. Mark Lyons, Alltech president and CEO. “At the same time, some of the stigma attached to poultry versus pork in those markets is also changing with the younger generation that is much more focused on sustainability and health.”

In the United States, Lyons points to the $2 billion potential of Chinese chicken exports.

“The U.S. poultry industry will benefit from the Chinese market opening up so that’s really going to drive what people are producing,” he said. “Maybe some different genetics for markets interested in cuts beyond high level of breastfeed yield? Perhaps some will jump on this opportunity and start to produce a different type of bird for that market.”

Lyons doesn’t feel that plant-based proteins will be a threat to broiler or broiler feed production.

“It’s much more of a perception issue, a very emotive issue for the industry,” he said. “I think it’s something to watch, but we believe that these alternatives are part of the global food landscape in the future. The agriculture industry is an over trillion-dollar industry — and we’re still talking about the need to double that in a not too distant future. Alternatives are part of the landscape, but they’re not going to eliminate or replace animal livestock production.”

If you want to know more about what poultry feed industry stakeholders think about the plant-based meats, the impact of antibiotic-free production and opportunities for growing profitability, make sure to read Poultry Nutrition & Feed Survey: Poultry feed balances cost with market demands.” The results of WATT Global Media’s annual survey hit the streets March 11. Here, nearly 400 readers from around the world share their insights on the state of poultry feed formulations and how they are impacted by macro trends.