For the past year, promoting sustainable agricultural supply chains has been an important subject, both in EU countries and globally. Recently, sustainably produced feed, poultry, and livestock products have been a hot topic for Romanian and Polish poultry companies as well.
The poultry meat products in southeastern and central European countries are high quality due to excellent growing and modern slaughtering conditions but are sometimes unable to reach western markets because of export requirements often based on different certifications systems in different countries or increasing supermarket pressure and less because of consumer demand.
The sustainability of the poultry meat production system can be influenced by several factors, including the origination of ingredients, chemical composition, and nutrient digestibility of a diet, among others. Because the poultry industry is largely dependent on soy as its main protein source, this ingredient is tightly interlinked with sustainability today.
In an effort to show commitment to the Romanian and Polish poultry industries and build a preference for U.S. Soy, USSEC held a one day seminar on “Sustainable Soy, Poultry Production, and Marketing” in Bucharest, Romania with the goal to educate poultry nutritionists, veterinarians, management and marketing experts on U.S Sustainable Soy and poultry production.
In his speech, Dr. Jan van Eys introduced the current market situation for feed and soy, followed by USSEC’s sustainability program and a discussion on quality differences among origins in anti-nutritional factors. These aspects were a good introduction for the other speakers.
The key messages delivered by Mack Graves, management and marketing consultant stressed how modern consumers today prefer meat products produced with sustainable ingredients. Sustainability is a new marketing tool for the meat industries, which can be good for business as well as the environment. Companies must become transparent in all they do to and establish consumer trust and enhance meat consumption. More than 90 percent of the soybean meal consumed in Romania and Poland is imported, either directly as meal or as soybeans that are locally processed into soybean meal. Soybean meal and beans are some of the ingredients for which the Romanian Feed Manufactures Association specifically supports industry initiatives in order to make the supply chain more sustainable.
As the local market and export demand for poultry meat grows, so too does demand for poultry feed. In recent years, the demand for vegetable protein meals for use in poultry feed has increased in Romania, and this trend is likely to continue over the coming decade. The increasing consumption of vegetal protein in feed, combined with increasing meat consumption and sophistication of the customer should raise important questions about how the supply of soybean meal can keep pace with rising demand for poultry feed. Collaboration between U.S. farmers, suppliers, and integrated poultry meat producers is a crucial part for sustainable animal production. Romanian poultry meat producers recognize U.S. farmers and suppliers for their continuous improvement and their effort to address the big issues associated with soy production such as environment protection, soil preservation and water quality.
Dr. Craig Coon presented the latest findings in the field of broiler and broiler breeders’ nutritional research. Genetic progress of broilers’ growth performance traits has been exponential in the past decades. Selection for increased growth rate (feed intake) has led to their improved efficiency through their capacity to process increasing amounts of nutrients on a daily basis. Feed intake is regulated not only by dietary energy level but also by the concentration of amino acids in the diet (balanced protein).
Rene Schepens from Fermentation Experts Denmark emphasized that fermented plant protein can replace fishmeal while fermentation of vegetal protein increases the efficiency of use of phosphorous (100 percent) and nitrogen (15 percent), avoids environmental pollution and increases profits. Indigestible and anti-nutritional components in the raw materials are converted into health promoters during fermentation, if it is done in the correct manner.
There is an enormous worldwide additional need for protein (meat/eggs) in the future, and meanwhile, there is a limited availability and acceptance of animal protein in feed. Current animal farming practices emphasize on more natural rearing, fewer medicines/antibiotics and a continuing pressure to be efficient with inputs and output (N, P) are other two main trends in the Western feed and livestock business.
With the dependence of the Romanian and Polish poultry and feed industries on imported high quality protein ingredients such as fishmeal of soy protein concentrate (SPC) and/or soy protein isolate (SPI) for their specialty diets in broiler pre-starters and young animals, the development of substitutes such as fermented soybean meal is of major interest, both practical as well as economical.
By the end of the seminar, poultry professionals understood how to address the industry and marketing challenges and how the sustainability of meat production can be influenced through certification, manufacturing processes and policy change. A coordinated effort across the industry that includes ingredient purchasers, nutritionists and veterinarians and marketing managers may result in a more sustainable poultry industry in Romania.