Feed industry working on lifecycle analysis

Published on: Feb 8, 2013

Environmental footprinting has gained more and more traction in the agriculture industry, as consumers and activist groups increasingly question how effectively various sectors of the economy use scarce natural resources. A global consortium of feed companies and industry organizations says it will reach a major milestone in gauging the environmental footprint of livestock feed production in 2013.

Among the chief criticisms of various studies of sustainability of, or environmental effects from a given industry is a consistent, logical methodology for measuring and interpreting various factors in a lifecycle analysis (LCA), the so-called “cradle-to-grave” assessment of environmental impacts associated with every stage of a product's life. To harmonize the methodology used for environmental footprinting of compound feed production, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), European Feed Manufacturer’s Federation (FEFAC) and the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) will publish an interim version of the Feed LCA Recommendations and an accompanying guidance document this April.

Born from a consortium formed by AFIA and FEFAC in 2011, and now part of a UN-led effort to benchmark and monitor the environmental performance of livestock supply chains, the group says it is critical to have a uniform set of standards for assessing the global environmental footprint of feed production.

“With the need to reduce the impact of livestock products on the environment, being able to measure the impacts associated with feed using a sound and harmonized methodology is a first step to initiate mitigation options,” said Joel Newman, AFIA’s president and CEO.

The interim version of the Feed LCA Recommendations will be presented during the 4th Global Feed and Food Congress, hosted by IFIF in South Africa this April. Feed LCA recommendations are being developed in accordance with accepted international standards, and taking place within the UN Food and Agriculture Organization partnership, a three-year project announced last summer (Feedstuffs, July 9, 2012) and chaired by University of California-Davis professor Frank Mitloehner.

Along with the interim recommendations, the group will also release a database of greenhouse gas emissions of major processed feed ingredients.

AFIA and FEFAC’s original consortium, established prior to the UN partnership, is a collaboration of seven feed companies, including giants Cargill, De Heus and Nutreco, as well as seven feed associations including AFIA and FEFAC.