We are proud to report that Feed International celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2010. After a pilot edition published in May 1980, the first regular issue appeared in September of that year.

Looking back to early issues of the magazine gives a reminder of the many changes that have occurred in the global feed industry since we started reporting on it 30 years ago.

Growth  

For example, our estimate of the world production of compound feeds in 1980 had been 370 million metric tons. Compare that with the figure of almost 708 million tons given by our report at the start of 2010 as the latest annual total.

What is more, the contribution from China in 1980 had been put at only 2 million metric tons. China’s annual output of industrial compounds in 2010 is approaching 110 million tons. The situation of the European Union has also changed out of all recognition. Three decades ago, the EU had only nine member states --- the number now is 27. And whereas the EU-9 of 1980 produced about 71.5 million metric tons of feeds industrially, the XXV FEFAC congress held this year in Germany heard that the countries of the EU-27 in 2009 had a combined feed production volume of nearly 148 million tons.

At the time of Feed International’s launch, the biggest EU feed producer was Germany with 14.9 million metric tons, ahead of France and the Netherlands. FEFAC data for 2009 have revealed that Spain (21.6 million tons) and France (21.3 million tons) now exceed Germany (20.8 million tons) for annual output. The most recent figure for France compares with a national production of 13.3 million tons of compound feeds in 1980 and therefore indicates a national expansion of 60% in 30 years.

Back in 1980, the US had 13,226 feed plants producing 109.6 million metric tons of commercially manufactured feed, but 463 of them accounted for two-thirds of all production, while the then Soviet Union produced 77 million tons at 600 mills. Feed production in both places has since become highly concentrated both for operators and for sites.

Change  

Among the largest players in the Europe of 1980 was Cehave of the Netherlands, which Feed International chose to be profiled in its inaugural issue. The profile said that Cehave (from the Dutch farm co-operative CHV) had just expanded its Veghel plant to a capacity of 1.5 million metric tons per year, operated a second production site at ‘s-Hertogenbosch capable of another million tons annually and had a new 500,000 tons/year mill under construction at Oss. Of the 2 million tons/year issued from the two existing plants, 55% was for pigs and 28% for cattle with 17% for poultry. Almost half of all feeds were used within a radius of 60 kilometres from the Veghel headquarters.

Although Cehave (more recently Cehave Landbouwbelang) has continued to feature prominently in our annual list of the top feed companies worldwide, the winds of change have also been blowing strongly in its direction. In June 2010 Cehave merged with another Dutch co-op, Agrifirm, to form the Agrifirm Group and the feed divisions of both co-operatives are coming together as Agrifirm Feed as from 1st January 2011. With effect from that date, therefore, the Cehave name will no longer exist.

Still in the Netherlands, our pilot issue had looked ahead to the seventh Victam feed industries show about to open in the Dutch city of Utrecht in May 1980. Victam that year consisted of 150 stands representing 350 suppliers. Afterwards it would return every three years to the same venue in Utrecht up to and including 2007. But May 2011 sees the show move to a new home in Cologne, Germany, where it will form one of three exhibitions in one event --- the others being FIAAP on feed ingredients/additives and GRAPAS on grain milling. What is more, Victam in Cologne will contain the 2011 Petfood Forum Europe organised by our associated title Petfood Industry.

Petfood and feeds for aquaculture have emerged as major growth areas in the worldwide feed business since 1980. Over those decades there has also been a major transformation in the materials used for making feed products. One of the biggest drivers of this was the appearance of the cattle disease BSE. Although the first cases were not described until some years later, their origins were reportedly traced to feeding materials that had been prepared or imported into Europe in the early to middle 1980s.

Subsequently, BSE would mean that feed manufacturers in Europe were prohibited from using ingredients derived from animals. Only now has the prospect emerged of the European ban being lifted so that at least animal-origin proteins might be allowed again in monogastric formulations.

Other aspects of our business seem hardly to have changed, however. Thirty years ago, our first reports were already debating the use of antimicrobials in feed materials with the prospect of tough regulation on the horizon. A major concern among mill managers even then was to limit the loss of materials during the feed manufacturing process. Protein levels for young pigs were under investigation for their probable link to problems of diarrhoea and surveys had found major differences between countries and regions for the vitamin levels present in their compound feeds.

Throughout the past 30 years, Feed International has proudly provided the feed industry with well-informed and up to date reports about such technical issues as well as on markets around the world. We look forward to continuing to serve you in the years to come!