Feed – UK grown crops and proteins offer viable alternative to soya

By Brian Kenyon, AB Agri

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Promoting the use of alternative raw materials and reducing reliance on soya in feeds is very much at the forefront of thinking in meeting Net Zero ambitions, both in ruminant and monogastric sectors. Whilst soya undoubtedly provides an effective package of nutrients, it can often come with a high carbon value due to land use change. 

As one of the biggest contributors to overall emissions in a poultry diet, soya is currently one of the priority areas. Adjusting poultry diets to meet sustainability requirements, and specifically reducing the reliance on soya, will take time to do well. 

ABN, AB Agri’s pig and poultry compound feed division, is undertaking significant research into potential alternative proteins. Delivery of these alternatives as a viable commercial offering will require a structured and pragmatic roadmap across the entire supply chain. 

Soya meal itself can be replaced or partially replaced by a number of existing materials, such as beans and rapeseed, which will mean developing the supply chain and the right processing techniques needed to maximise their effectiveness.  

Co-products of the food and energy industry are interesting alternative raw materials, as they have low carbon values due to their status as by-products, though this could be offset by the need for additional processing requirements to get the by-product into a form that can be handled by the feed mill and readily incorporated into the feed. 

An industry-managed transition to reducing soya, with a realistic timeframe, will allow a secure supply chain to be developed, with the arable sector able to scale up the right crops, preventing demand from outstripping the UK’s cropping cycles and further exacerbating price rises.

In most cases we are not looking at new raw materials, we are talking about existing UK grown crops. But what we do need is alignment across the supply chain and to invest in the infrastructure to turn on the tap and start to make the transition.

This means a joined-up approach involving all parts of the supply chain, from arable farmers to animal feed companies, pig and poultry processors, food service and retailers to help drive this transition. 

We all need to share a commitment, and in the short-term, the cost too. It is this step-change, that commitment from all parts of the supply chain, which will be the key to getting our animal feeds to Net Zero. It is within our grasp, but we need to act now. 

Brian Kenyon is ABN’s Senior Nutrition Manager, responsible for product development and nutritional technical support in the UK.