"Circular feed ingredients can be divided into two groups," Jan explains. "First, you have food (ingredients) that are unfit for human consumption. Think of bread that is past its sell-by date. For animal feed these products can still be very valuable. Secondly, there are the co products, the residual flows from the production of other main products, for example in the production of beer, brewer's grains are waste but are very suitable as feed ingredients."
Evelien: "Optimally we would convert these co products into high-quality protein products. Pigs are able to do that with almost any co-product, making them a perfect match in the in the fight against food waste." According to Jan, this important role of the pig is widely acknowledged in the agri sector and could help showcase to society how livestock has an important sustainability advantage . To that end, multiple of research is being done on the opportunities of circular feed ingredients in pig feed, especially in cooperation with other players in the feed business.
Jan: "We are currently involved in a multi-year project ‘Feed-4-Foodure’ in the Netherlands together with the Feed Research Association (VDN) and Wageningen University. The central theme is 'how to include a high share of circular feed ingredients in animal feeds?' By testing feed with circular ingredients particularly in poultry and pigs, we are investigating the opportunities and challenges in order to continue to produce predictable results and healthy animals in the future with these feed materials."
Evelien explains what these studies look like: "We wanted to replace a common raw material in piglet feed with co-products, but they contain a high sugar content. During a trial, we tested feed with different percentages of the co-product. This allowed us to see, through manure samples, that too much of this co-product is resulting in looseness, something we don't want to see. Based on these results, we can adjust and optimise the formulation. This knowledge is hugely important for our customers."
In order to optimize the sustainability of animal feed, according to Jan and Evelien, developing knowledge and creating opportunities regarding the use of circular raw materials, and a positive view of the pig as a circular superstar are important prerequisites. "An optimal use of co-products is a key pillar in sustainability. But in all these related activities, we shouldn’t forget that if you push the ‘circular ingredients button’, this could probably impacts the CO2 footprint or nitrogen emissions of your feed. That’s why it is very important that we are building on this knowledge together in the interest of the entire sector with this project. And that is something to celebrate," Jan proudly concludes.