During EuroTier last November, I was invited to a press conference regarding the activities of a new nutrition company. Among the many products and services presented, some of which gave me excellent insight on the future of the nutrition business, I noticed something of a paradox.

This new firm goes to great lengths to ensure the vitamins they manufacture in China are of the highest possible quality. They spend considerable amounts of money, effort and time to make sure their products will meet strict European Union requirements. In fact, they mentioned that their vitamins made in China are as good as if made from the EU’s best vitamin manufacturer.

I would like to challenge my fellow EU nutrition business colleagues to consider re-evaluating our business model.

I see nothing wrong here, and everything is as it should be; globalization at its best! But I cannot stop thinking — and I will probably ask them this question — how much more expensive would it have been to keep this manufacturing business within the EU? As far as I understand, their business model appeals more to small- and medium-sized feed manufacturers (EU premix businesses or animal producers). The large and mega-buyers — who are few in the EU — buy directly from China or other importers. Perhaps the cost is even on par with EU-produced vitamins?

In other words, I am questioning whether small and medium buyers based in the EU would not mind paying a small premium for vitamins produced within the EU, especially now that this continent is tortured by many years of financial crisis. After all, as many vitamin manufacturers keep telling me, the cost of vitamins is minute compared to total feed cost.

And, taking this opportunity, I would like to challenge my fellow EU nutrition business colleagues to consider re-evaluating our business model. For how long can we afford importing animal nutrition products in a market threatened by imports of cheap animal products for human consumption?