China deflation slows global feed growth rate to 2%

Alltech’s annual Global Feed Survey – the fifth in the series – estimates that 995.5 million tonnes of compound animal feed was produced in 2015. This tonnage is worth some $450 billion – down from the $460bn plus in 2014, as feed commodity values have fallen.


The latest production estimate is a 1.97% increase on the 980 tonne volume manufactured in 2014, and is 14% up on the 871m tonnes in the first survey from 2011. Alltech believes its data gathering has become more robust and reliable over the period – it collected the information during December 2015 through its 600 field sales staff across 130 countries, with a customer database comprising nearly all of the world’s 32,340 feed mills.

By species, poultry continues to dominate with a 5% increase in the latest year to 463 million tonnes, comprising 46% of global feed manufacture. Pig feed output fell by 2% to 253.5m tonnes, but ruminant volumes were 3% higher at 201.3m. Aquaculture feed production has fallen to 35.47m tonnes, while pet foods are up by around 4%to 22.6m tonnes and horse feed sales are flat at 8.22m tonnes.

Alltech vice president Aidan Connolly believes the continuing growth of poultry reflects the versatility of the meat and eggs, their production efficiency and the fact there are no religious constraints to the poultry market. Pig numbers are down, largely due to herd consolidation in China and the poor producer returns around the world. The increase in ruminant volumes this year masks a 10% overall decline over the five years of the survey. Aquaculture is down 5%, following a 2 year contraction in China which accounts for 60-70% of global fish farming, but the sector has grown by 19% over the five years of the survey. Pet and horse numbers and feed demand are related to general economic security, notes Mr Connolly, and tend to fall in times of austerity.

By region, China leads the global league table with 180m tonnes, closely followed by the US at 173m tonnes and, after a long gap, Brazil in third place with 68.7m tonnes.  Spain is the largest EU producer and sixth in the world at 29.4m tonnes. The UK, with 15.6m tonnes, is the world’s 20th largest manufacturer.

China’s feed output fell 2% in 2015, the third year of decline as its milling sector consolidates – the country currently has 8,550 compound mills, down from 10,000 in 2014, through a national policy drive towards safer, less contaminated feed and livestock products. China has also seen a 20% fall in sow numbers, from the 50 million head in 2014 to some 40m today.

Europe saw 13m tonnes growth to 240.6m tonnes in 2015, produced from 5,545 feed mills. The largest growth came from Russia, Turkey and Belarus, with Poland showing the biggest increase within the EU.  

By feed ingredient, corn/maize is the dominant cereal used in feed manufacture in 76% of the countries surveyed last year, with wheat the major starch in 21% and barley for just 1%. Of the proteins, soya is most important in 96% of the countries, with oilseeds 2% and sunflower 1%.   

Looking ahead, concerns over antibiotics and cocciodiostats in poultry feed are cited by respondents as growing consumer concerns, with Mr Connolly noting there are a lot of discussions on these topics in the food chain. Other areas of concern are broiler meat quality, egg shell strength and improving the nutritive value of the egg through essential oils and feed supplements. Pig industry concerns are largely disease led, especially PRRS, the Seneca valley virus and ASF, although PEDv in China is also a worry.

Ruminant preoccupations include antibiotics in those markets still allowing them as a growth promoter, together with feed efficiency and environmental impact which still concern policy makers and NGOs. At the market level, the ongoing problem is beef’s price competitiveness with other meats.  

In summary, Mr Connolly expects poultry meat to gain further market share in the future, as beef declines. Asia will remain the fastest growing region in terms of feed output, with India likely to be the fastest growing country.

Meat is still too cheap, Mr Connolly concludes. As farmers and their feed industry suppliers get ever more efficient, their returns are not improving, while food prices continue to drop – by around 2% in the last year. It appears consumers, not farmers or feed millers, are the ones benefiting from this economic progress.

A webinar presentation and summary booklet can be downloaded via this link.

Posted on January 26, 2016 and filed under Feed, News.