Forum will focus on raw material security

The British Pig & Poultry Fair has developed an excellent reputation for its free technical forums and will once again turn the spotlight on four subjects of great interest to pig producers at this year’s event. Feedstuffs will be the topic under discussion in the raw materials forum, which will look at where the raw material world might be in five years’ time

One of the main physical and cost inputs into the pig industry is nutrition, which relies, to a large extent, on a secure raw materials supply chain. The security of crops grown to supply this market is, therefore, of paramount importance and that’s why it will feature at the upcoming British Pig & Poultry Fair (May 13/14 at Stoneleigh Park), explains the head of RASE technical events, Alice Bell.

“The Raw Materials Seminar will be part of the forum programme that ABN, as partners of the Fair, and as procurement specialists, will be leading,” she says. “It will bring together procurement expertise and the rest of the industry to explore the supply chain of major raw materials and what future implications and knock-on impacts the security of these inputs could have for the UK pig industry as a whole.”

The outlook of the raw materials market has changed during the past five years, explains ABN’s procurement manager and market analyst, Erin Burns, who’ll be speaking at the forum that’s to be held on both days of the event.

“Many factors have contributed to this shift, including global topics such as oil resources, and an economic downturn,” she says. “These issues have made consumers more aware of the whole supply chain, and it has altered public opinion. There’s now a greater level of interest as to where food comes from, and its credentials, and the pig industry needs to bear this in mind.

“This means all who’re involved in the supply chain must consider the finite natural resources that are available to us, and whether it’s possible for the industry to continue in the same way.”

“We have to consider wholesale change as an industry, and what can physically be grown on the land available to produce a secure flow of raw materials,” Miss Burns adds. “Now, more than ever before, an overriding importance is placed on the security of raw materials and their origin, meaning there’s an element of supply chain re-evaluation going on, and ABN is well placed to inform pig producers of any developments in this arena.”

According to Alice Bell, current commodity trends are widely reported on, but the industry as a whole needs to look further into the future at how we can continue to secure raw material supply to meet our demands.

“This forum at the British Pig & Poultry Fair is a great opportunity to bring together ABN’s procurement specialists and producers to discuss this,” she says.

Pig producers expect a certain quality of raw materials from their feed supplier, yet the security of the supply of these initial ingredients often features as a low priority for them.

“Feed companies, for the majority, are the only farmer-facing component of the raw materials supply chain, and it’s up to them to ensure the continuity of supply for our UK pig producers,” Erin Burns says, adding that depending on the commodity in question, it’s very subjective as to why the security of individual raw materials becomes an issue. “There are various factors at play that affect the security of the raw material supply, and the majority of these are beyond our control. However, it’s our job in procurement to anticipate these elements.

“Price volatility is one such factor affected by supply and demand, and this is influenced by any number of variables, including political changes that can dictate the flow of exports from countries that are big players in the market.

“Governments often have control over the supply of raw materials, and can be crucial decision makers where, for example, weather conditions impact the fortunes of crop production and its consequent security of supply as a raw material to the UK market.”

Miss Burns says that to try and combat these variables and ensure security, it’s important to safeguard supplies by buying forward when conditions are more favourable; not in the spot month.

“We have to plan ahead,” she says. “ABN’s procurement specialists are well placed to inform the industry on any updates in the commodities market. Besides trading on the global raw materials market, we also meet with UK retailers to try and work with them to ensure a reliable supply chain where possible.

“This should help make the supply chain more interactive and secure.”

Miss Burns points out that supply not only needs to be reliable, but it also has to be of a certain quality.

“Wheat is a perfect example of a product where we expect, and need, a consistent supply as it is one of the main raw materials in volume that goes into the pig feed industry,” she says. “Pig producers rely on it.

“The majority of the combinables sourced by ABN as raw materials are home-grown. This shortened supply chain helps ensure we have this security and reliability in wheat and barley, which are key raw materials.”

Alice Bell says the British Pig & Poultry Fair is a great platform for the pig and poultry industry to discuss how it should work together with key stakeholders.

“The technical forum will allow farmers to hear first-hand what’s being done by commercial feed companies and the industry to maintain a level of security for these vital raw material inputs.”

The future
According to Erin Burns, the way raw materials are produced will need to change in the long term.

“The ongoing challenge of the population increasing while we have no more land on which to grow food is only going to become more of an issue,” she says. “In the future, advanced crop technology to increase yields of existing crops is going to become vital to ensure the supply chain is more efficient. This should help producers of raw materials to grow more from less.”

The worlds’ population is growing and the more affluent countries become, the greater their requirement of protein, adds Miss Burns.

“Growth is likely to see the development of substitute products that provide the nutrients animals need more efficiently,” she says. “As an example, insects could provide a rich source of protein on a fraction of the land currently needed for the production of soya.

“Yet, technology is already making in-roads around the globe, and soya is a prime example of where the scale of production has been transformed through the use of GM.”

Meanwhile, many raw materials that originate in developing countries offer enormous potential for increased supply.

“Through a change in mindset and farming culture, more efficient cropping on the same areas of land, could result in considerably higher yields,” Miss Burns says.

The technical forums at the British Pig & Poultry Fair in May will provide farmers and industry experts with the opportunity to question procurement specialists.

“People have a tendency to be opinion led rather than fact led on this emotive subject,” Miss Burns says, “and we’re there to help keep the industry informed while discussing how this impacts us all.”

Visitor information
The 2014 British Pig & Poultry Fair will give visitors access to more than 300 companies offering information, products and services for all areas of your business, including: animal health; breeding and genetics; feed and nutrition; housing, ventilation and handling equipment; packing, processing and marketing; business management and training; and renewable energy.

There’s also a comprehensive programme of forums and workshops that are free to join and open to all visitors. They’ll run on both days of the event and will address the future challenges and opportunities facing the pig sector.

Entry to the 2014 British Pig & Poultry Fair is free, but visitors must complete a registration form to gain entry. Online fast-track registration will be available on the event website from March.

Tuesday, May 13 (09:00-17:00) and
Wednesday, May 14 (09:00-16:00)

Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire (CV8 2LG)

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