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2-speed piglet feed becomes the new norm worldwide

Two types of piglet feeds are gaining in popularity -- low cost and high quality -- while the middle is disappearing.

piglets-eating-feed
Brett Critchley | Dreamstime.com

Low cost and high quality feeds are expanding while the middle disappears

Based on my global network and personal experiences, I am seeing a trend that started in 2021 taking a stronger hold now in 2022, with even higher speed. I am talking about the trend of having two kinds of piglet feeds in the market: either low cost or high quality. Very rapidly, the middle type of piglet feeds is disappearing due to the dire financial situation of the pig industry, compounded by problems of expensive or unavailable raw materials, COVID insecurity, logistics bottlenecks, inflation and more.

So, what happened to those who used middle-of-the-road piglet feeds? Invariably, they moved to low-cost feeds and most stayed there. This is because they do not mind the dip in animal performance and/or health, or they prefer to pay less for medications, or they run out of cash and credit to buy the more expensive, high-end products. In some cases, they also realized their pigs do just as well as with the previous products, mostly because health and management is top notch; but in most cases, pig performance and health are affected negatively.

A good portion of producers who moved to low-cost products are becoming increasingly disappointed. Either they cannot afford to see their animals having lower performance and/or health status, or the already low-cost products have become even lower in cost (but not in price) because some feed manufacturers are also pressed by the same financial issues as pig producers. These disappointed pig producers are now turning, with increasing speed, toward more expensive, better-quality products that safeguard animal performance and health. These producers realize that money spent on a good starter feed is a lifetime investment for their pigs and not just another expenditure. Here, it merits repeating that not every expensive product is necessarily of high quality. But, in contrast, it is impossible to find a high-quality product at a low price.

So, for 2022 and beyond, I see the piglet feed market splitting into low-cost (simple) feeds and high-quality (complex) feeds, with the middle disappearing from most markets. Those who are in the business of high-quality raw materials are already seeing increased demand and must plan ahead for enhancing their marketing and production efforts.

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