Plant-based feed additives have been proven safe and effective to enhance animal production while meeting consumer demands.
HANOVER: In addition to the rising need for high-quality animal protein, and high feed costs, new challenges have arisen from consumer worries about animal welfare and antibiotics.
The U.S. are taking the role as the global driving force with many foreign markets expected to follow. However, the requested changes as well as new regulations raise complex challenges for livestock producers worldwide.
Reliable solutions are for the most part multi-level no silver bullets. Due to their wide range of modes of action, proven phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) are seen as natural choice for production systems meeting consumer demands.
The ban on antibiotic growth promoters in the EU in 2006 started to change the way of thinking on a global scale. Since in the United States, sub-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics for growth performance will no longer be allowed by 2017, this situation is changing rapidly now.
It is not surprising that natural solutions such as phytogenic feed additives are moving further into the spotlight, while the use of antibiotic growth promoter s is pushed back by law and consumer pressure for health reasons.
Aside from health issues, animal welfare related production systems such as non-cage, free range and organic production are seen as growth potential on a global scale. Concerning non-cage housing systems, Europe is currently leading with 44%; China for instance has 10% in non-cage systems, the US 10 %, Canada 8%, while Latin America is just starting.
In several other countries, consumer pressure on governments to ban cages can be observed (e.g. India). Taking a closer look at the U.S. trends for non-cage eggs, the power of the food industry is becoming apparent. In 2015, McDonald’s has announced to using only cage-free eggs in the U.S. and Canada by 2025.
To date the list includes nearly 200 companies, every major fast food chain, many of America’s most popular food brands, and all of the major supermarket chains in the U.S.
A conversion of half of the U.S. egg industry can be expected by 2025. This movement is encouraging others, such as the Latin American franchisee of McDonald’s, Arcos Dorados. However, for producers, it raises various challenges, for instance dysbiosis, wet litter, footpad dermatitis and dirty eggs. These challenges need to be solved, for example with phytogenic feed additives.
In organic production, consumer demand is increasing as well, reflected in the significant market growth in the U.S. (2015: 13%), the world’s largest organic market.
The top three commodities in certified organic sales in the U.S. are milk ($1.2 billion, increased 8.4% from 2014 to 2015), eggs ($732 million, increased 74.5% from 2014 to 2015), and broiler chickens ($420 million, increased 13.1% from 2014 to 2015). Further growth is expected.
Globally, the markets are fast moving, driven by consumers and the food chain. The livestock industry needs to cope with various new challenges from farm to fork, in order to balance supply and demand.
“Our duty is to help customers by developing and providing solutions that work, for producers, for animals, for consumers, for the environment,”explains Markus Dedl, CEO of phytogenic feed additive manufacturer Delacon.
Discovering the power of nature
Throughout history, herbs, spices, other plants and their extracts, like essential oils, have been used for human health and veterinary applications. Today, powerful botanical compounds and plant extracts are selected for their modes of action addressing challenges in livestock nutrition.
The term phytogenic feed additives was coined nearly three decades ago by Markus Dedl’s father, the founder of Delacon, who even then recognized the potential of plants to meet challenges in animal husbandry.
Delacon’s phytogenic feed additives contain more than 100 natural ingredients being part of many different active ingredient groups, such as essential oils, bitter substances, pungent substances, saponins, flavonoids, mucilages and tannins.
“At Delacon, we have gained scientific expertise in the powerful physiological effects and the specific application of botanical compounds. Such knowledge is crucial in order to avoid cutting down the power of nature. However, science is only starting to fully understand phytogenics, particularly potential synergism amongst numerous active plant components,” illustrates Dr. Jan Dirk van der Klis, Director of Products and Innovation for Delacon.
“Notably, phytogenic feed additives based on botanical compounds and plant extracts show wider modes of action compared to chemical, nature-identical single substances, which is due to the synergistic effects of all active components within the plants we use.”
“Since the very beginning in the 1980s, we have been discovering the complexity of botanical ingredients and their synergistic effects as none other in order to carefully select and formulate the active ingredients that work best. We strongly believe in the power of nature," states Markus Dedl.
“To solve specific challenges, belief is not enough. By proving the effects of phytogenic feed additives in numerous trials all around the globe, we have replaced belief with scientific knowledge.”
Delacon has supported partners worldwide in the transition phase to antibiotic-free and non-cage systems.
Dedl: “By solving these and other challenges, we have captured market shares of up to 70 percent in Europe. In the U.S., for instance, every fifth piglet is fed with Delacon’s phytogenic feed additives.”
In the spotlight for food safety, sustainability, and profitability
Phytogenic feed additives are safe to consumers, as tested by authorities. That implies a feed-to-food chain consumers can trust. Moreover, meat quality can be improved. The use of phytogenic feed additives supports livestock producers in acting economically and sustainably. They aim to deliver optimized performance by supporting nutrient utilization, as well as gut health and integrity.
While contributing to animal health and welfare, and providing a return on investment of up to 5:1, life cycle analysis of Delacon’s phytogenic feed additives have shown that they minimize the carbon footprint by 5%. Moreover, they have been shown to reduce ammonia emissions by up to 50% and methane emissions up to 20% compared to rations without phytogenic feed additives. All benefits that resonate positively with mainstream audiences.
Dedl: “The global developments are not only challenges, but opportunities. Time has come to trust in the power of nature, and deal with proven phytogenic feed additives meeting the consumer demands. For our customers, we want to be both, the best partner, but also the right one at the right time.”