Top 10 feed industry headlines of 2014

Animal Feed for Thought

Jackie Roembke, editor of Feed Strategy magazine, offers her perspective on happenings in the global feed and grain industries.

Yes, the past is the past. And some may
argue that discussing old news is obsolete; however, in my world, tracking trends, metrics
and reader engagement is interesting and essential. So, every year, I like
to look back and see what content – in this instance, headlines — performed
the best. One vehicle helpful in gauging these interests is, of course, our
bi-weekly enewsletter, Feed eNews.

Luckily, I have reporting technology at my
fingertips because the data paints an interesting picture of where the
industry’s interests lie. Some topics may seem obvious, but others came as
a bit of a surprise. The Top 10 most-read news items split neatly into three
categories – with a fourth, more general outlier.

Data
is king

As in previous years, the release of
exclusive feed industry statistics sent clicks through the roof.

During the summer of 2014, the ranking
results of WATT Global Media/Feed
International
’s Top Feed Companies report generated much
interest. The article, compiled from the Top Feed Companies database,
revealed the 2013 production trends of the leading global feed manufacturers.
(Keep an eye out for the 2015 report in early autumn.)

In addition, the release of Alltech’s
2013 global feed survey report
, which provides production estimates by
region, also captured the attention of our readers. Based on the company’s
findings, it estimates that 963 million metric tons of feed were produced in
2013 – up 1 percent from the year prior.

Animal
health news always of interest

In the swine and feed industries, 2014 will
likely be remembered for the devastating impact of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus. In a little over a year, the virus was found to be responsible
for the deaths of more than 8 million piglets. As all stakeholder groups looked
to identify the cause and control its spread, a Canadian report citing contaminated feed as the cause
of its movement across the border took the feed industry by surprise. After
porcine blood plasma tested positive for the virus, pork producers the world
over began dropping the use of the ingredient in their formulations. The Canadians
later backed off the claim.

Today, nearly two years after the initial
outbreak, neither the pork nor feed industries have identified a “silver bullet”
responsible for the spread of the disease.

Other animal health-related “hot topics”
included the potential link between DDGS, necrotic
enteritis
and the discovery
of banned antibiotics in Dutch animal feed.

Acquisitions
rank high

Acquisition and merger news also garnered
much attention last year. Obviously, the international feed industry has been
following the eminent sale of Nutreco, specifically when SHV Holdings moved to acquire the company. The buzz surrounding Cargill’s purported
interest in the Dutch feed manufacturer added a flare of excitement to the
story. 

So it’s no surprise that when Cargill abandoned its bid for Nutreco in the final weeks of the year, this
headline took the No. 11 “most popular” slot. As of today, Nutreco is still on
the market and SHV is the only prospective buyer.

Other acquisition news in the Top 20 most
read news items include ForFarmers acquires HST Feeds and Alltech acquires Leinert Australia

Tragedy
and its aftermath

Domestic and international readers alike
were drawn to the breaking news about the collapse of International
Nutrition’s Omaha, Nebraska, feed mill.
Two employees lost their lives and 10
others were seriously injured. While initially it was believed an explosion was
responsible for the incident, in the year since the accident, an investigation concluded
the building’s collapse was caused by “overloaded
bins”
set on the rooftop of a nearly
50-year-old structure that did not meet modern building codes.

Another U.S tragedy, this one involving an
incident in the U.S. grain industry, finally came to a resolution in 2014. Two
Illinois teenagers perished in a grain engulfment accident at a Haasbach L.L.C. grain elevator in 2010;
a third boy was rescued. After years of litigation, in February 2014, an Illinois jury awarded the victim’s
families and the surviving teen $16 million.
 

Shifting toward unsettling geopolitical news
– specifically the crisis in Crimea – last summer, reports of an armed militant occupation of a Cargill plant in Ukraine brought the realities of potential trouble in the global grain industry
closer to home. After the initial story broke, no further news emerged from the
company or other news outlets. (If you know something, I would be curious to
know more about the outcome.)

Pelleting
guide captures clicks

Beyond the traditional news, it was exciting
to see that the 5th installment of Feed
Pelleting Reference Guide
,
a six-part comprehensive pelleting primer produced and released by WATT Global
Media and Kansas State University, also ranked in the Top 10. The complete
guide is available for download at http://www.wattagnet.com/feedpelleting.html

In conclusion, I’d like to wish you a
prosperous and safe 2015. 

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