February 1, 2010


Soy reliance threatens EU pigs and poultry



The future of the EU's pig and poultry industries is threatened by its heavy dependence on imported soy and soymeal, according to a leading UK feed compounder.


"We are far too dependant on soy. If we are not careful we are going to export our pig and poultry industries to other countries," Hugh Burton, raw material manager for pig and poultry feed compounder ABN, a unit of Associated British Foods Plc.


"I think we need to look very seriously at how we can develop our pulses and rapeseed meal to compete better with soy within feed rations," Burton said.


He said the EU grows only about 1 million tonnes of soy and imports about 13 million tonnes of whole soy and a further 22.5 million tonnes of soymeal.


He also noted that key suppliers such as Brazil were expanding their pig and poultry sectors by lessening the availability of soy for export.


South American producers have taken a growing share of the global soy market over the last few years with Brazil accounting for 25% of production in 2009 and Argentina 21%, compared to 19% and 10% respectively in 1994, according to USDA data.


According to reports, Brazil is also the key source of the non-GM soy sought by some consumers in the EU.


Burton saw soy as the "king" of feed rations with protein levels significantly higher than competitors such as rapeseed, winter peas, sweet white lupins and faba beans. He said the quality of the protein was also better with higher levels of key amino acid lysine.


Meanwhile, he said the slow approval for importation by the EU of new GM varieties of soybeans posed a further challenge.


There is no blanket ban on imports of GM soy into the EU but each variety must be individually approved in what can be a lengthy process due to strong opposition from some members.

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