The challenges of the future
01 November 2017
If we look at the future, a stable, safe and reliable global food chain is not only desirable, it is necessary to overcome the major challenges of the coming decades. The four main challenges – Climate Change, Food Security, Big Data and Novel Feeds – have global implications; all parties in the food chain will be confronted with them in the decades ahead.
Climate change can cause increased molding during cultivation and with that, the formation of mycotoxins. Extreme draught or rain will lead to an increased use of pesticides. An increase in the number of crop failure will in turn cause a shortage of raw materials. A possible response will be that the sector will start using raw materials with higher risks, that would otherwise be used as biomass.
For companies in the feed chain, extra alertness and responsibility is required in the coming decades. When purchasing raw materials, companies bear the responsibility to investigate whether the products originate from an trustworthy, non-hidden chain. Therefore, the importance of traceability is likely to increase in the coming decades. This also means that risk analyses and control measures must be improved and intensified from the start of the chain (at harvest and storage).
In addition, we are facing a rapidly growing global population and growing purchasing power. In Asia, this leads to an increase in the consumption of animal food products and a greater demand for feed materials.
The combination of more demand and less availability for feed materials due to crop failures is not without risks. There is a possibility that inferior raw materials, that are currently being fermented, will find their way to the feed industry for the production of food of animal origin in the future. Alertness is required. The challenge is that the increasing demand must be met, without compromising feed safety. If one of these requirements is not being met, this can lead to great social disturbance.
Governments and businesses must be creative. Leading in that sense, is for example Saudi Arabia. Due to water shortage, the production of wheat, which relied on irrigation, was almost shutdown entirely in the Saudi Kingdom. A dramatic step, particularly because wheat is a very important part of the Saudi diet. The country decided to import wheat for human consumption. Additionally, for food security reasons, Saudi Arabia decided to stimulate animal production (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) domestically. It goes to show that a healthy dose of realism, creativity and courage can provide answers to climate related issues.
Data, analytics, robotization, algorithms and artificial intelligence have the potential to fundamentally change the world in the years to come. Not just the feed sector, but all sectors will increasingly face questions, dilemma’s and opportunities in the field of automation. How these developments will affect us, is still uncertain. But we know two things for sure. One, it will happen. And two, we must reap the benefits from it. In the feed sector, the challenge is how we can use data management to increase the level of feed safety assurance and security. We must seize the opportunities with both hands in achieving our ultimate goal: safe food to produce safe animal products. Let’s have a positive attitude towards these developments and use them to reinforce our chain and economies.
For optimal growth and health, every adult needs to consume 60 grams of protein each day. With the world’s population projected to reach almost 10 billion in 2050, the production of protein needs to be increased significantly, even though – by some estimates – we are already consuming the equivalent of 1.5 planet Earth’s worth of natural resources. There are viable concerns about the impacts of increased agricultural production on the environment, ecosystems and sustainability. The global feed industry needs to lead to world in what is called the ‘feed-protein revolution’. In this, there is no way around novel feeds – proteins of insects and microalgae’s. Novel feeds have a tremendous potential of production capacity and research has shown its use has no impact on the taste of food. As a sector we need to be on the forefront of producing more with less, and novel feeds could very well be our saving grace in that regard. Yet persuading the customer may turn out be the biggest challenge.