10 June 2019 – As part of a Feedinfo 20th Anniversary* Futurist point-of-view series on what our industry may look like in 2039, today we talk to Cargill Corporate Fellow and Key Accounts Director for Cargill Animal Nutrition, Dr. Mario Penz. Mario is also a poultry expert and futurist.

We asked him about the future of poultry nutrition, societal concerns, and how today’s feeding technologies may evolve by the year 2039.

[Feedinfo News Service] Dr. Penz, in 2039, what do you think will be the poultry nutritionist’s main considerations?

[Mario Penz] Given that global demand for animal-based protein is expected to grow by more than 50 percent over the next 30 years, we believe there is no foreseeable shortage of demand for traditionally-produced poultry. All numbers suggest that poultry consumption will continue to grow, due to rising incomes in developing countries, no restrictions on poultry consumption due to religious beliefs, and because broiler meat and eggs are the most affordable sources of animal proteins. All of these will help the poultry business. However, nutritionists will continue to be challenged to help produce inexpensive, high-quality final products. They will need to be engaged on nutritional recommendations that reduce the potential for environmental pollution, formulating diets closer to the real requirement of broilers in different phases of production. With the restriction of antibiotics, nutritionists will need to understand more about the digestive tract microbiota and how to modulate it through the formulation of the diets. Generic recommendations will be replaced by customised solutions. Throughout, nutritionists will need to be prepared to answer society’s and consumers’ questions about how the birds are being fed and grown, and the long-term sustainability of poultry production. They will need to understand more than just nutrition, and deeply interact with other segments of the business production chain.

Dr. Mario Penz
Cargill Corporate Fellow &
Key Accounts Director – Cargill Animal Nutrition

[Feedinfo News Service] What will the poultry farm look like in 2039? Will the 2 kg bird no longer exist?

[Mario Penz] There is no doubt that poultry farms will continue changing, as they changed in the last 20 years. More attention will be given to the relationship between well-being, sustainability and performance. There are important issues that will come to the table, including energy and water availabilities. We will need to build poultry houses that make efficient use of these two resources. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, will need to have more of a role. More efficient water use and/or desalinisation of ocean water will be required. At the end of the day, we need to remember that availability of and access to food and water are fundamental requirements to world peace. So, animals and humans must use these resources judiciously. Aside from that, society will continue to debate how best to produce chicken. In many parts of the world, providing safe food, economically, is the focus. In Asia, there is a preference for local genetic strains (yellow birds). In other regions, people are willing and able to pay a premium based on the way poultry is raised in terms of its feed or housing. The connection between consumer demand and producer responsibility here isn’t always straightforward. For example, we’ve seen growing interest in slow-growing poultry meat. This is motivated by people’s natural desire to maximise an animal’s well-being, which is a priority for farmers, too. But another societal responsibility is sustainability, and slow-growing birds, compared to conventional chicken production, consume, proportionally, more of the world’s limited natural resources. All these competing priorities will need to be discussed, with science part of the conversation.

[Feedinfo News Service] An antibiotic-free global poultry industry in 2039, dream or easy prediction?

[Mario Penz] This is an easy prediction to make. Society is expecting this change and research must continue to pursue ways to efficiently substitute other solutions for antibiotics, with minimal or no animal production compromise. So, the poultry industry needs to take every opportunity to learn, from available knowledge, and adapt the production process to this expectation. After many years discussing this subject, science has progressed to move away from “more of the same” to a new approach which involves looking more at the host and the environment and less at the eventual pathogen, which in the past was considered the main target. A healthier, nutritionally supported and immune-protected host can be much more efficient when facing any challenge. However, there is an important issue to be debated in the future: Will banning antibiotics, as growth enhancers, also mean banning antibiotics used on disease intervention? We know that animals that suffer unnecessarily from disease are not at their best, from a well-being standpoint. Society challenges us—the animal production industry—to end the use of antibiotics in the animals we feed due to antibiotic resistance concerns, and I want to challenge society to also think more about the antibiotics they’re using for their own health reasons. When considering antibiotic resistance, the consequences of humans overusing antibiotics can be more harmful.

[Feedinfo News Service] Which existing novel feed additive technologies do you believe will play a bigger role in poultry nutrition in the next few decades?

[Mario Penz] There is no doubt that ongoing progress in additive technologies will continue to play a fundamental role in poultry nutrition. Additives are used to enhance animal health and nutrient use by the animals. They favour nutrient digestibility, improve gut health and stability, increase nutrient absorption and support microflora modulation. This facilitates chicken growth with less variability and reduces environment pollution. Also, it is important to emphasise that new additives will focus strongly on intestinal immune regulation. Most of the immune modulation of the chicken is enterocyte response-based, making the host more prepared to respond to environmental challenges during its production life. Another focus area will be additives that enhance final product quality and improve food safety, a top expectation of our customers and customers around the world. However, we need to understand that additives can only improve production and product quality if the full poultry supply chain is better understood. Also, improving all these products and structures must be in partnership with producers’ dedication to their animals, meeting their animals’ needs throughout their production life.

[Feedinfo News Service] How do you see ‘Precision Nutrition’ evolving in the next 20 years?

[Mario Penz] First, precision nutrition must get away from theory to become reality in daily production. To get there in the next 20 years, we need to transform commodity ingredients, such as corn, soybean meal, meat and bone meal (where it can be used) into uniform, analysed ingredients. Companies will need to invest more in ingredient segregation and, in real time ingredient analysis and feed formulation. With no precise ingredient analysis, precise nutrition is elusive, even with the best diet formulation. Feed mills will need to improve technologies, to be more precise on weighing, grinding, mixing and pelleting. The extensive list of additives and how they work will need to be better understood so we can make nutrients more available and hosts more prepared to digest and absorb them. Also, nutritionists will need to stop using linear feed formulation and start using nonlinear feed formulation, where formulas will depend on other variables (age, sex, temperature, baby chick price, feed cost and/or final product margin, etc.), instead of only ingredient and nutrient costs and availabilities. In short, formulation will need to become customised, where each client can have more precisely formulated diets, to support the precision nutrition concept.

[Feedinfo News Service] Do you think we will be using feed additives in 2039 that have yet to be conceived?

[Mario Penz] Considering all technologies that have been introduced, based on the last 20 years of research, there is no doubt that the discovery process will continue. For example, the gross energy of soybean meal is not used in the same way by birds as it is in other monogastric animals. To compensate for this low fermentable capability of the chicken’s digestive tract, different soybean varieties will need to be developed. In enzymes, we have a long journey ahead. It will be important to better understand lipase effectiveness, starch and non-starch polysaccharides, and how to improve their digestion and absorption. Antioxidants will also need to be better understood, specifically natural ones, considering the importance that they have on gut integrity and health. In addition, more information will be needed on immune modulators, to reduce challenges of a production environment with dense animal population. Not to mention phytogenics, organic acids, probiotics, prebiotics and others not yet described, making this opportunity still more attractive to learn about these additives and their interaction. There is a long, potential-filled journey ahead.

* To mark the 20th anniversary, we are publishing a series of cutting-edge interviews, we have launched a special logo and strapline ‘Trusted animal nutrition market intelligence’, and will also be celebrating the milestone at our three Feed Additives Conferences in June (Feed Additives Asia, 26-28 June, Bangkok*), September (Feed Additives Europe, 25-27 September, Amsterdam) and November (Feed Additives Americas, 13-15 November, Miami). Tickets are still available for Feed Additives Asia 2019. Book now: https://www.feedadditives-asia.com/