Growth in the production of livestock feeds in the European Union (EU) slowed slightly last year, with an increase of 1.8% from 2017, compared with a 2.3% rise from the previous year.
Total compound feed production for the EU in 2018 was 1.8% higher year-on-year at just over 163.32 million metric tons (mmt), according to the latest revised estimates from the European Feed Manufacturers’ Association, FEFAC.
This figure comprises the output of compound feeds for cattle, pigs, poultry, milk replacers and “others,” and all EU member states except Greece, Luxembourg and Malta.
At just over 55.88 mmt, poultry feeds represented the largest volume, and an increase of 1.7% from 2017, followed by diets for pigs, which stand at just under 51.1 mmt, and almost unchanged from the previous year. The greatest increase was in the cattle feed category, which jumped 3.8% to more than 46.7 mmt.
EU production of milk replacers in 2018 was down marginally at 1.14 mmt, while output for the “others” category was 2.8% higher year-on-year at 8.49 mmt.
Germany remains EU top feed producer
In 2018, Germany retained its place at the top of the EU feed production rankings, with an output of over 23.8 mmt — just ahead of Spain with almost 23.7 mmt. Spanish expansion of 1.7% for the year narrowed the gap on the leader, where the volume fell by 1.0%.
Just behind these leaders in 2018 stood France (20.8 mmt, +0.9% from the previous year), followed by the United Kingdom (almost 16.8 mmt, +3.3%), the Netherlands (14.9 mmt, -0.6%), Italy (13.99 mmt, +2.2%), and Poland (11.61 mmt, +5.5%).
The country achieving the greatest increase in the production of compound feed between 2017 and 2018 was the Republic of Ireland, where expansion was 20.6% to 5.30 mmt. Irish volumes of pig and poultry feeds were down slightly from the previous year, but growth was in the cattle and "others" categories — by 30.4 and 28.7%, respectively.
Feed volume produced in Sweden in 2018 also increased significantly over the previous year at 4.8% to 2.02 mmt. Cattle feed output was 7.3% higher than 2017, and the “others” category by 6.0%.
FEFAC offers no analysis of the figures just published, but the increases in feed production in Ireland and Sweden may be linked to a prolonged drought in northern Europe in the summer and fall 2018. This led to poor pasture growth, and to farmers needing to offer supplementary feeding of concentrates to cattle and sheep that would normally be grazing during those seasons of the year.
As well as Germany and the Netherlands, two other countries reported contraction of their respective compound feed industries in 2018 in terms of output volume — Bulgaria (-3.6%) and Denmark (-2.3%).
Ten years previously, in 2008, total feed output for the then 27 states of the EU — again excluding Greece, Luxembourg and Malta — was just under 151.67 mmt, and France led the rankings with an output of just over 22.64 mmt.