Our growing focus on sustainability has many parallels with our origins in feed safety.
Our community recognises that sustainability is the challenge of our generation. It’s no surprise then we’ve been asked to play our part.
The industry wants our support because we know the sector. We know its challenges, it’s unique dynamics, and its potential. As an independent organisation too, we can help to combine initiatives and efforts in practical and meaningful ways that reflect the diverse and international community we are.
This is what we’ve done for years.
Thirty years ago, the idea of a safety standard that not only covered the entire feed chain but that was also accepted around the world was almost unbelievable. But like with any innovation, early adopters n led the way, and made it possible for the whole sector to modernise.
However, some companies back in the 1990s felt that feed safety didn’t need a coordinated response. Some said it should be left to individual companies to sort out, or to market forces, or to legislation. Some felt it just wasn’t a big issue at all, and not worth the money or effort.
The discussions we hear today on sustainability in animal feed are hauntingly familiar.
So why should we take a similar approach to sustainable feed like we did with safe feed?
Firstly, because animal feed doesn’t see borders.
Enabling reliable consistency in feed safety outcomes was needed at an international scale to reflect the reality of the industry. We are seeing the earliest versions of national and regional sustainability legislation coming into effect. But while local legislation is catching up – the animal feed market continues to be truly global.
Just like safety had to be international, so does sustainability. If we as a sector define the outcomes and develop the frameworks and tools for companies to meet those outcomes, it will help the whole sector play on a level playing field and achieve more reliable, consistent, and comparable impacts.
Secondly, because fragmented efforts don’t work.
Lots of feed companies had safety processes in place, but they were inconsistent across the whole chain. This meant our whole sector’s reputation depended on the weakest link in the chain.
Similarly, lots of companies today are doing their own thing on sustainability. The level and scope of innovation is truly impressive, and many are understandably using their sustainability initiatives to differentiate themselves in a competitive market. However, until we join up these efforts the impact will always be overlooked and easily dismissed.
And thirdly, because compliance alone is not enough.
Thirty years ago, the sector chose to own our response to the feed contamination scandals of the day. That made the subsequent standards more tailored and practical, and ultimately the industry rightly got the credit for turning the ship around.
We favour a proactive approach to sustainability, instead of waiting for legislation to make the rules. Instead, if our sector takes a proactive approach, the more we can do so in ways that recognise our unique challenges, characteristics, and considerations.
So how do we see our contribution as GMP+ International? We want to facilitate joining efforts and support the community on sustainability to go beyond compliance.
As an independent organisation, we want to bring together our community’s innovation and initiative to rise to the challenge. We are looking to bring industry leaders together to work on a substantial decrease of our carbon footprint of our supply chains, and we expect to host many other discussions in future on other sustainability initiatives like circularity or the use of insect-based feed.
Similar discussions have already led to real life standards that you can use in your company today. Whether it is our established standards on sourcing responsible soy, non-GMO feed, or our pilot with a Carbon Footprint standard, our standards are here to enable you to take the next step.
The sustainability challenge is not abstract or distant, it is here and now. We have the opportunity to rise to the challenge, and I am looking forward to sharing more about how GMP+ International will be supporting both safe and sustainable feed over the coming year.