Feed Strategy - January 2018 - 7
FeedStrategy ❙ 7
Blockchain technology is slated to revolutionize
transparency in the food and feed supply chain.
social media "influencers," bloggers, etc.
Prosumers "are out there sharing their perception
of what is good and what is not, and they seem to be
in control of the discussion, not the manufacturers,"
said Aidan Connolly, Alltech's chief innovation officer. "That creates its own interesting dilemma where
someone owns the brand or product, but the image is
defined by somebody else."
What do proactive consumers have to do with livestock feed manufacturing? In the future, perhaps a lot.
While interest in the local farm-to-table food chain
has grown in popularity throughout the past decade,
the next generation of prosumers will likely want to
take commercial exploration of this model a step further: feed-to-farm-to-consumer.
"There is reason to believe that this trend will
continue further back into the production chain
and will also be applicable in the feed industry,"
said Johan den Hartog, managing director, GMP+
International, noting that this level of engaged consumer wants complete transparency.
The prosumer's potential influence
over feed production
While the average consumer may not be interested
in every minute detail, the demand for transparency is
increasingly the norm in some segments of animal agriculture and feed production, e.g., organics.
"Consumers demand the right to know where the
food they are buying comes from, which may ultimately translate to the feed fed to the animal," said Richard
Sellers, American Feed Industry Association's (AFIA)
senior vice president of public policy and education.
"It's a you-are-what-you-eat mentality. I believe we, as
an industry, will be responsive in listening to consumers and providing them with the information they need
to make informed decisions."
In the future, Connolly believes the prosumer
agenda could influence ingredients used in animal
January 2018 ❙ www.WATTAgNet.com
Wal-Mart recently collaborated with IBM
and Beijing's Tsinghua University to use
blockchain to digitally track the movement
of pork through China. In this instance,
the network was designed to trace how
the meat flowed through a commercial
network, from the swine producers to the
consumer. The goal of this trial was to
improve recall procedures.
"The ingredients may be scientifically valid and
safe, but they may not play out well on the front page
of the newspaper," Connolly said. Active consumers "may be able to restrict - and maybe even remove
- these ingredients from animal diets."
Ultimately, he predicts this brand of "armchair
activism" may eventually lead to more vegetable-based
animal diets and reduce the industry's ability to use
certain types of byproducts and micronutrients.
den Hartog agrees, adding that it also affects the
sourcing of ingredients.
Feed traceability leads the way
In practice, the groundwork for providing the consumer with added transparency has already been established by commercial feed traceability practices.
"Most consumers might not dive into the technical
details of a traceability system, but some will demand
that the industry adopts a proactive approach in sharing - in full transparency - information about its
production practices and the repercussions when it
comes to risk management, animal welfare, fair trade,
sustainable and responsible sourcing," said Peter
Fidder, Trouw Nutrition's quality affairs director.
He suggests the main issue moving forward will be
the transformation of big data into more reliable and