The chicken and the egg. Find out what comes first in nutrition for poultry. 

By Amanda Halbersma February 23, 2015

“Eat more chicken” is not just a suggestion from self-interested cows anymore. People will be eating a lot more poultry as the world’s population increases. That notion is inspiring innovation in Cargill’s feed and premix businesses. In fact, it was one of top poultry trends presented at the largest global poultry and additives industry event – the 2015 International Processing and Production Expo – held in the U.S. in late January. Capitalizing on the event’s record attendance of 30,000 people, Cargill Corporate Fellow and Key Accounts Director for Cargill Animal Nutrition, Dr. Mario Penz, and others, detailed how Cargill’s new offerings make sense in an ever-changing consumer environment.

Trend 1: Global demand for protein is increasing, and poultry leads the way.

Meat consumption is predicted to increase 26 percent in the next 15 years, and poultry is seen as a great way to meet demand. Chickens and other poultry are very efficient at processing feed, making them a less expensive meat to produce. They are high in protein, and there are no religious-based dietary restrictions for poultry meat, so it has cross-cultural appeal. Eggs are also a popular and inexpensive protein, meeting the growing protein needs of many developing countries.

Poultry meat production will need to account for almost half the increase in global meat production by 2023, according to 2014 projections from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Producing the feed that will be needed to sustain that growth is inspiring a wave of innovations in the poultry industry.

“Feeding a world increasingly dependent on protein begins with our industry and the critical role we play in the feed-to-food supply chain,” said Penz.  “Cargill is well-positioned to do this. Through our work, we reach the tables of approximately 1 billion people around the world, every day.”

Trend 2: There is a growing desire for “precision nutrition.”

Cargill’s customers, and poultry producers worldwide, experience common challenges with their operations. Maintaining the overall health of their animals is the main one, but challenges can also come from feed ingredient price fluctuations or local or regional environmental regulations that affect operations. Information from various sources can help producers figure out “precisely” the right feed formulations to help them manage their unique challenges effectively. The Cargill Nutrition System was designed to help poultry, pork, dairy, beef and aquaculture customers access that precision nutrition information.

CNS is a proprietary nutrient formulating platform combining real-time global nutrient analysis of feed ingredients with the latest research in nutrient application and ingredient sourcing. It is the foundation for Cargill’s models, tools and applications, some of which have already netted results for poultry producers.

“The real power behind CNS is that it provides a platform to compile and use relevant nutritional data from around the world and quickly apply that information on a local basis to provide just the right feed formulation for our customers,” said Jason Shelton, global technology director for Cargill Animal Nutrition.

Data that feeds CNS results from the $60 million Cargill invests annually in research, development, and applications. It is constantly refreshed and updated, and includes information about 1,800 ingredients and 10 million annual nutrient predictions. CNS also harnesses the thinking done in Cargill’s two global R&D Innovation centers, 13 regional Technology Application Centers and daily interactions with customers in 37 countries.

This body of knowledge is expected to keep growing.  For example, the Global Cargill Animal Nutrition Innovation Center in Velddriel, The Netherlands, recently completed a $3.7 million expansion and renovation, comprised of a new broiler grow-out facility and a state of the art broiler breeder facility.

Trend 3:  We want to know what our meat had to eat.

Increasingly, consumers want to know where their food comes from, and in the case of livestock, what their food ate.

At the IPPE show, Cargill introduced an option for producers who want to meet consumer demand and are seeking ways to integrate more sustainable practices in their operations. Proviox® Breeder, a new feed additive product under the Provimi™ brand’s PROMOTETM additives product line, provides customers with a plant-based additive option that can enhance bird performance and improve feed efficiency.

“Proviox® is made of polyphenols extracted from fruits, vegetables and herbs such as grape, onion and rosemary. This is why we talk about natural ingredients,” said Maxime Hilbert, global additives technology leader for Cargill Animal Nutrition.

To test the effects of including Proviox® Breeder in diets, Cargill conducted multiple trials in the Velddriel Innovation Center. “We now have the unique capability to test breeder diets, hatch the eggs on site, and grow out the broilers to market age all in one facility. This breeder research program provides deep insights that are critical to improving all elements of breeder diets, including premixes, specialty additives, and complete feeds,” said Roland Koedijk, PhD, Cargill’s global poultry technology leader.

So while the philosophical debate about whether the chicken or the egg came first may go on indefinitely, it can be said with certainty that Cargill will continue to innovate to deliver customized feed and nutrition solutions to customers globally, with the ultimate goal of helping them, and the world, thrive.