Updated: Aug 12, 2021
The Future of Food Relies on Sustainable Animal Feed Sourcing
In the UK and across the globe, the farming industry is under increasing pressure to improve sustainability credentials and reduce its carbon footprint.
Delivering sustainable change requires input and involvement from every part of the supply chain – and for livestock and dairy farmers, this includes using a sustainable feed. It does not matter how sustainable our own farms are if we are sourcing from unsustainable producers.
With animal feed, this means looking at the core commodities such as maize, soya and palm oil, and ensuring that they are produced in a sustainable, ethical manner.
Although governments across the world are working on legislation to improve sustainability standards – this is going to take time. As an industry, it’s up to us to make the right decisions today.
The Impact of Feed Commodities
Maize, soya and palm oil are all essential ingredients in animal feed – and all can have a significant impact on the planet in terms of deforestation, destruction of habitat, displacement of indigenous people and unethical labour practices.
Soya and palm oil use have become particularly controversial, as the historic expansion of these industries has led to the clearance of tropical rainforests across Asia. Currently, the UK uses around 1 million tonnes of palm oil (of which around 500,000 is PKE for the animal feed industry), and around 2.5 million tonnes of soybeans.
Palm oil tends to bear the brunt of the criticism from a sustainability perspective – but the reality is that palm oil can be a fully sustainable, ethical and Net Zero ingredient that supports circular agriculture.
As an industry, we just need to make the right decisions, and to buy the right products, from the right suppliers.
The Unquestionable Benefits of Palm Oil
Palm is one of the world’s most efficient oil crop, providing 35% of the world’s vegetable oil on 10% of the land. Tens of millions of people across the globe depend on palm production for their income.
Palm oil (and specifically palm kernel expeller/PKE) is used in animal feed for good reason. It’s cost effective, especially in organic supply chains where raw material choices are limited. PKE delivers real benefits that ultimately improves the wellbeing of animals, especially in the dairy industry. It is high energy, high fibre and provides good amounts of C16 and C18, supporting digestion in ruminants and butterfat production.
The WWF has published various studies in which they conclude that “switching away from palm oil may cause unintended consequences”. It could take between 4 to 10 times more land to grow alternative oil crops such as soy, rapeseed or sunflower, which would lead to a net increase in deforestation.
The Rise of Sustainable Palm Oil
Over the last 15 years, initiatives, governments, and organisations such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) have transformed the global palm oil industry.
Today, there are established standards and certification schemes for sustainability and traceability throughout the supply chain. Palm oil can be a truly sustainable choice.
Astrid Duque, Managing Director of DAABON UK, a global leader in sustainable palm oil said:
“For feed companies, organic dairy farmers and food producers in the UK who want to reap the benefits of palm oil while ensuring their supply chain isn’t contributing towards deforestation, sourcing from a sustainable, accredited source is the answer.”
Certified Sustainable Palm – Exploring the Supply Chains
Certified sustainable is palm oil produced to standards set out by one or more different bodies, such as the RSPO, Rainforest Alliance, POIG, ISCC, ISPO, MSPO and others. In the UK, the RSPO is one of the most popular and recognised standards.
The words ‘certified sustainable palm oil’ covers a few different supply chain models, including:
• Mass Balance – sustainable palm oil mixed with non-certified palm oil (with the quantity of
sustainable oil sold as certified sustainable)
• Segregated – sustainable palm oil from different sources
• Identity Preserved – sustainable palm oil, fully traceable from a single certified source.
Of these, Identity Preserved (IP) is the highest standard of sustainability, allowing full traceability from the soil to the market.
Identity Preserved – The Gold Standard in Sustainable Palm
“Sustainable sourcing requires a responsible approach – actively looking to ensure that the ingredients sourced are truly sustainable. This means understanding and trusting in your supply chain. For palm oil, buying Identity Preserved provides on the best solution.”
Says Judith Murdoch – EFECA.
Identity Preserved palm kernel expeller offers traceability right back to the plantation, delivering benefits to farmers, feed producers and dairies in terms of provenance, control, and peace of mind.
“Purchasing IP palm oil provides full visibility and accountability – buyers know exactly what they are getting, where it comes from and how it was produced. It enables buyers to vet their supply chains, and ensure that the methods, ethics and sustainability credentials fit with their own.”
Andy King Barrington Farm Somerset
Astrid Duque of DAABON UK, explains what this means in practice:
“At DAABON, all the palm oil we produce is organic, identity preserved certified sustainable. Our palm operation is net zero, deforestation free, and supports more than 500 family smallholders across Northern Colombia. We hold certification with global bodies including the RSPO, Rainforest Alliance and POIG, and we’re consistently rated as a top producer by SPOTT, which tracks the transparency of sustainability programmes. Farmers and feed producers in the UK can buy from us in the confidence they are getting a truly sustainable solution.”