One of Japan’s top ecofeed experts will join European experts in a panel discussion to weigh the economic, environmental and safety risks of (a) continuing under the current ban on feeding surplus food that contains meat to omnivorous livestock, or (b) adopting legislation that permits the production of pig feed from heat-treated food surplus produced in specialist licensed plants, inspired by the Japanese ecofeed industry.
The Circular Economy Action Plan sets out to increase the use of surplus from the food chain in livestock feed without compromising food and feed safety. However, EU livestock production continues to rely heavily on feed crops such as wheat, barley, and soya connected to deforestation in South America. This is costly not only to the environment but also to farmers.
Japanese industrial food-to-feed recycling plants deliver waste-based feed at half the cost of conventional feed. Even a fraction of such cost savings could deliver substantial benefits for EU farmers who spend up to 70% of their total production budget on feed.
An earlier technical panel convened by REFRESH concluded that it is possible to make surplus food safe for pigs, who as omnivorous animals are particularly suited to recycle our leftovers. However, surplus food that contains meat requires careful treatment to ensure diseases such as Foot and Mouth or African Swine Fever are inactivated. And transport, storage and handling of treated feed needs to follow strict hygiene and segregation requirements to prevent cross-contamination with raw food waste.
Can we learn from the Japanese experience to inform adequate EU legislation and practice? In this panel, experts from Japan and the EU will debate the economic, environmental and safety considerations around regulating the industrial processing of surplus food no longer fit for human consumption, as is currently done in Japan. We will also discuss the findings from a technical panel with academic and industry experts on the nutritional requirements of the modern pig. Will it indeed be possible to significantly reduce our demand for unsustainable feed ingredients critical in pig diets, such as rainforest soya?