Nothing to waste
While precautions having to do with the production of animal byproducts used in feed have increased and trade become more restrictive in recent years because of concerns about “mad cow disease,” or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), it’s still a big business.
The National Renderers Association (NRA) said in 2010, rendering companies produced more than 4 million tons of processed animal protein, equating to 2.2 million tons of meat and bone meal, 1.2 million tons of poultry byproduct meal, and 604 million tons of feather meal. Another 4.3 million tons of grease and lard was produced.
Rendering makes use of huge quantities of materials that would otherwise have to be incinerated or sent to landfills. NRA said 49 percent of the live weight of cattle, 44 percent of hogs and 37 percent of chickens are not used for human food. Offal, bones, feathers, and even the ground up shells of crabs can be crushed and processed into feed ingredients.
In 2010, the United States exported 511,745 metric tons of animal protein meals, second only to the European Union, as well as 879,251 metric tons of tallow, according to NRA, citing figures from the Global Trade Atlas.
Kent Swisher, NRA’s vice president of international programs, said after the discovery of the first BSE case in the United States a number of countries shutdown their markets to U.S. exporters in early 2004.
“Gradually, we renegotiated and they opened to poultry and pork products, but the bovine products, except for the Philippines and Indonesia which allow ruminant beef and bone meal, that is about it,” Swisher said.
Many countries have feeding bans that prohibit the use of meat and bone meal from ruminant animals, like cattle or sheep, to other ruminants. But they will allow the use of meat and bone meal from cattle, for example, to feed poultry or fish.
Swisher said Indonesia cut off imports of bovine meat and bone meal after a case of BSE was discovered in a dairy cow in California last year, but he expected that trade to reopen early this year, noting that this BSE case was not believed to be feed-related.
He noted imports of meat and bone meal made from hogs is restricted in Muslim countries for religious reasons.
Going forward Swisher said there should be other markets opening up, but it’s not clear how soon.
He said the biggest constraint on increased exports of processed animal proteins is that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), an advisory body to the World Trade Organization on trade disputes, considers the United States to be a “controlled risk” country, meaning there have been some BSE cases in the United States, but that the country has controls in place.
“Under that scenario, the OIE says you should not be allowed to export ruminant meat and bone meal, so countries use that and say according to OIE we should not import from you. That is likely going to change soon, and we should get ‘negligible risk’ status, and under negligible risk status you’re allowed, according to the OIE, to export ruminant meat and bone meal,” Swisher said.
Swisher said use of meat and bone meal is attractive for use in aquaculture because of the depletion of bait fish stocks.
He noted exporters of rendered products compete with producers of plant protein byproducts, such as corn gluten meal and distiller’s dried grains with solubles.
Swisher said the European Union has had a ban on the feeding and export of animal byproducts except for pet food.
(BSE was first diagnosed in the United Kingdom in 1986 and the European Commission introduced legislative controls in 1989.)
Swisher said the European Union is expected to begin easing up on its feeding ban in July 2013 and allow non-ruminant protein to be used for aquaculture feed. He added, however, that some European countries have permitted the sale of animal proteins as “fertilizer” and that it’s used as animal feed.
Swisher said most processed animal protein is bulk-loaded into containers when it’s shipped.