29 January 2019- Alltech’s annual feed survey announced a 3% increase in feed production in 2018, according to Alltech’s president Dr. Mark Lyons, who presented the numbers to the media in a webinar today.

The survey is meant to represent 29,605 mills which produced an estimated 1.103 billion metric tons of feed in the most recent calendar year.

Broiler feed posted 3% growth in 2018, although the species experienced a small decline in the second largest production region of Latin America, where Venezuela, Chile, and Brazil all saw their numbers decline.

Similarly, while swine feed worldwide saw a 1% growth, Alltech claims the category declined 3% across Asia-Pacific. Lyons believes that improved feed conversion ratios are certainly an important part of that evolution up to now, while ASF risks affecting this much more deeply going forward; Lyons cites reports speculating that the disease could impact production by as much as 30% in 2019. China’s swine feed production amounted to 79.6 million metric tons last year.

The dairy category also reported global growth of 3%, with no regional declines, states the survey. “However, there’s a lot of stories behind the scenes” of those figures, acknowledges Lyons; Europe has seen an intra-regional shift towards countries in the North, including Ireland, Sweden, and the UK, as well as an increase in compound feed, while in the US, dairy alternatives are becoming more and more evident even as dairy production barrels ahead. At the same time, Lyons calls out important growth in dairy in South Asia, including countries such as India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Beef, meanwhile, remains flat for the second year in a row, while aquaculture continues to grow at a rapid clip of 4% globally (5% within Asia Pacific and Europe).

A minor re-evaluation was necessary in pet food, where last year’s survey had revealed Europe pulling ahead of North America; Alltech now believes North America is ahead. Still more notable was the story in Asia, where pet food production is seen to have grown 13% across a diverse group including Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

On a geographical level, many of this year’s key findings were unsurprising. Asia-Pacific continues to lead world feed production with 36%, followed by Europe with 25%, North America with 18% and Latin America with 15%.

Yet looking at the trend lines evokes a slightly different and more interesting story, Lyons points out; from this perspective, Africa’s 40.6 million metric tons of feed represent growth of 5%, the most rapid regional expansion in the world.

Of course, Africa is also hounded by the most expensive feed in the world, owing to a combination of regulatory barriers, logistical challenges, and dependence on imported materials. Even so, driven by rapid population and GDP growth, there is clearly potential in the African market, Alltech’s CEO asserts; a more intriguing question is whether African industrial agriculture will recreate the same forms seen elsewhere in the world or whether it will “leapfrog” ahead, with more broadly-based adoption of technological innovations and new practices.