As multinational food and beverage corporations make public professions of their commitment to sustainable production, how will these promises affect their upstream partners?
Across global agrifood supply chains, corporation seek assurance that downstream partners and suppliers are committed to sustainability as it relates to sourcing, waste management, environmental footprint and production processes.
Coming from decades working for large Austrian food companies, Michael Fischer, Delacon’s new chief operating officer (COO), joined the Chat to offer his perspective on how corporate agrifood sustainability goals will change how feed additives are used and animal feed is formulated.
Transcription of Feed Strategy Chat with Michael Fischer, COO, Delacon Phytogenic Feed Additives
Jackie Roembke, editor in chief, WATT Feed Brands/Feed Strategy: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Feed Strategy Chat. I’m your host, Jackie Roembke, editor in chief of WATT Feed Brands and Feed Strategy magazine.
This edition of Feed Strategy Chat is brought to you by WATT Global Media and FeedStrategy.com. FeedStrategy.com is your source for the latest news and leading-edge analysis of the global animal feed industry.
Today we’re joined on Zoom by Michael Fischer, Delacon’s new COO. Prior to joining the phytogenic feed additive company, Fischer most recently served as the CEO of Austrian beverage and food manufacturer Spitz; prior, he spent 20 years with the Austrian bakery business Resch & Frisch Gruppe in various management positions.
Michael’s here to discuss growing consumer and agrifood corporation demands for sustainable food systems and what that will mean for animal feed and feed additive producers now and in the near future.
Hi Michael, thanks for being here today.
Fischer: Thank you. I’m fine. How are you? Thanks for the invitation.
Roembke: Let’s get right into it. Coming from the food business, you bring a unique perspective. As you’ve grown familiar with the feed industry, what sustainability practices were the most surprising or unexpected?
Fischer: So first of all, I would say we have one common mission, and this is nourishing the world. And also the topic of sustainability is becoming more urgent and important for both industries.
What I experienced is that the connection to the consumer is much more close in the food industry than in the feed industry. That means that the consumer has much more information and knows exactly what he wants. So in terms of sustainability, there are topics like food waste, plastic waste, because it’s concerning him as a person. Packaging, in general, but also specific topics like added artificial additives, or even very specific raw materials like palm oil, etc. And in the feed industry, aspects like raw material sourcing, production, packaging, as well as transportation are very similar to the food chain.
I would say I experienced also that in the 1990s. The feed industry started with topics in terms of sustainability, starting with health or maybe antibiotic banishing. And now it’s changing a little bit to emissions, animal welfare, soil and water and biodiversity. So the big difference, I would say, is really the approach to the consumer and the possibility to communicate directly with the consumer.
This is an advantage for the food industry, I would say.
Roembke: Very good. How to do you feel the role of feed additive and ingredient suppliers will evolve to deliver on the downstream food producers’ sustainability pledges?
Fischer: Yeah, I would say the support could be in sourcing of raw materials as well as transport.
For sure, secondly, the mode of action and possibly claims of the products of the of the feed industry. So, for example, phytogenics, which are able to increase the welfare of animals and also decrease the emission of gas and things like that.
And last but not least, to be a trusted partner, that is committed to sustainability overall, meaning close collaboration within the chain, standing together and providing solutions and good arguments for the consumer.
Roembke: What unique challenges do you think the feed and feed additive industries must overcome to meet these expectations?
Fischer: Yeah, I see one of the great challenges is to focus now on innovation, and to allocate all your possible money and time and all the things in, really, innovations to meet the needs of the consumer and to really have new approaches to sustainability. And so meaning also to balance meeting consumer demand and industry capabilities and needs. And again, the communication to the consumer is a very important point to give information to the consumer.
Roembke: Excellent. Are there specific trends in this area that you’re closely watching?
Fischer: Yeah, sustainable trends, I would say. We just look at surveys and can see that special materials are focused on topics like health, animal welfare, raised with natural feeds and raised in a sustainable way. And that means also in ways that reduces the impact on the environment. And there is a big need of information and transparency across feed to the food chain. And yeah, that means all in all, sustainability concerns, all of us, and it’s a shared responsibility.
Roembke: Thank you so much, Michael. And thanks to everybody for tuning in.
Fischer: Thank you, bye bye.