More Than a Billion Tons of Feed Produced in 2017

Although not surpassing last year's record, global feed production in still more than a billion metric tons. ( Alltech )

The recently released Global Feed Survey, generated annually by Alltech for the past seven years, shows an estimate of 1.068 billion metric tons of feed were produced globally in 2017.

“The Global Feed Survey continues to serve as a valuable report on the state of the global feed industry,” says Alltech’s Chief Innovation Officer Aidan Connolly, author of the summary book. “In addition to its insights into the feed industry, it serves as a barometer for agriculture as a whole and demonstrates the economic strength of the countries included in the survey.”

Connolly identified seven overarching findings from this year’s report:

1. China shows small decline
As Dermot Hayes pointed out in a recent PORK article, it appears China is going through a period of change, particularly in pork production but also in other livestock species. Although pig feed production increased by 11% last year, there is a continual shift to large modern operations rather than the small, backyard operations for which China has been known in the past. Because production is better in larger operations, China’s sow herd is shrinking.

Connolly points out that China’s dairy and beef feed production declined by 17% last year.

“China’s dairy industry is struggling as milk farmers try to balance high priced inputs with poor returns from milk processors,” Connolly says. “The beef industry’s decline indicates the displacement of local production with both cheaper imports and higher quality imported meats.”

2. Russia production stronger
The survey showed large increases in Russia’s overall feed production, “as the country grows increasingly self-sufficient and less reliant on imported meat, milk and eggs,” Connolly said in the survey overview report. “This focus on food independence has bumped Russia’s position in the top ten from No. 7 to No. 4 in the feed league, pushing India, Mexico and Spain each down a position, despite the respective feed production increases of each of these countries in 2017.”

He said that swine feeds, in particular, were higher, largely due to more accurate data collection. This comes despite the challenges Russia has had with swine disease issues.

3. India taking off
Connolly says India, like China, has been the country to watch, though cultural and religious affiliations mean that growth isn’t in pork or beef. Rather, it is related to milk, egg and poultry production.

4. Africa still on the fast track
“For nearly every year of the Alltech Feed Survey, Africa has been one of the fastest growing feed markets,” Connolly says in the summary report. “Although 2017 didn’t continue this trend as a regional average, Africa’s growth rate over the last five years was nearly 30%, which well exceeds the global average estimated at 13.1%.

Leading that growth is African pig feed production, which was up over 6%. In addition, dairy, layer and broiler feed production showed increases this year. The region has the most expensive feed costs for pigs, layers and broilers, according to Connolly.

5. Aquaculture flat
The report shows that aquaculture feed growth was relatively flat, but Connolly points out this number can be deceiving.

“A growing global population, increased desire to consume fish because of reported health benefits and a need to produce farmed fish more sustainably and economically, should have resulted in strong growth, but Asia feed production weighs disproportionately, representing nearly 70% of overall global fish feed production,” Connolly says. “Africa and North America were relatively flat but we saw strong growth in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.”

6. Equine feed production stronger
The equine industry “has seen a healthy growth in the last year with every region reporting growth,” Connolly says in the survey report.

7. Feed costs reflect food costs
Feed costs are “as variable as any other industry sector has been in the last twelve months,” Connolly says in the summary report. “From a pig perspective, costs are about 2% higher globally, and a pig finisher diet is estimated to average around $363. Pig production is up about 5.54% globally, and indicates good growth for this sector.

In general, feed costs are low throughout the world and Connolly believes they will remain that way for the foreseeable future. He says farmers and growers have gotten better at combatting disease and drought in plants, which has lowered production costs and increased yield.

“Corn, soy and wheat can all be produced at low costs and the harvests are bountiful,” he says. “This lower input cost is reflected in our own food costs, which are also at an all-time low historically.”