Speaking to Feedinfo News Service, Professor Qi Guang-Hai of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ Feed Research Institute who is speaking at Feed Additives Asia 2018, argues that 220 million tons of industrial animal feed output by 2020, up 11% from 2015 – a target which may seem ambitious to some, is a realistic target set by the Chinese government.

Prof. Qi, who also spoke at the Feed Additives 2017 conference organized by Feedinfo News Service in September 2017, points out that industrial feed output reached 209.2 million tons in 2016. It is also estimated that Chinese industrial feed will increase by 2-3% yearly in next 2-3 years due to the increase in per capital animal product consumption, economic development and rapid decrease of small-holder animal production. Some experts even estimate Chinese industrial feed output will amount to 250 million tons by 2025, says Prof. Qi.

Feedinfo News Service recently caught up with Prof. Qi and discussed some of the main themes impacting the evolution of China’s feed and feed additive industries.

[Feedinfo News Service] Prof. Qi, the Chinese government is planning to continue focusing on increasing the nation’s self-sufficiency with regard to feed ingredient demand in the hope that local protein ingredient prices can be stabilized. The increase in domestic feed output is part of that plan. What is your view of China’s feed ingredient self-sufficiency target?

[Qi Guang-Hai] In China, we basically want self-sufficiency in our energy ingredients supply. It really means most of, not 100%, energy ingredients will be supplied domestically. As for protein ingredients, we only want to maintain the stability of protein ingredient supply as we heavily rely on imported protein ingredients. To reach this goal, we will continue to import soybeans from more countries. In addition, we will import other protein ingredients such as rapeseed meal, etc. In the new-round structural adjustment of agriculture, some areas will grow beans and quality-grass rather than grains to increase our self-supply of protein ingredients in China.

[Feedinfo News Service] What initiatives are you seeing by the large Chinese feed producers to decrease feed costs?

[Qi Guang-Hai] The competitive needs and surviving pressure are driving feed companies in China to reduce feed costs. The feed enterprises must decrease feed costs in the future since Chinese feed mills can only meet approximately 50% of productive capacity at present. They are willing to use all the strategies including management skills and feed technology. Regarding management, they are adopting more and more palletizing machines and bulk feed trucks at the feed mills. Regarding feed technology, they are increasingly using non-routine feed ingredients and low crude protein feed formulation technology.

[Feedinfo News Service] In your opinion, how modernized are Chinese feed mills today?

[Qi Guang-Hai] In the last 40 years, China’s feed industry developed steadily. This includes feed machinery. I think that current Chinese feed mills, especially large feed producers are almost as modern as those in Europe and North America. Automated palletizing and multiple bar code identification have been introduced in the feed mills. However, I don’t think many new feed mills will be built in near future due to surplus of productive capacity of feed mills.

[Feedinfo News Service] How competitively-priced are Chinese feed additive manufacturers?

[Qi Guang-Hai] China produces 41% of feed amino acids and 70% of feed vitamins in the world. There are three major reasons for this situation: higher technical level of production, lower cost of production and great demands from domestic markets. The development of production technology and competition between feed additive manufacturers will contribute to the reduction of production costs of feed additives, thus a large number of more competitively-priced feed additive manufacturers will emerge in China.

[Feedinfo News Service] Can we expect more and more domestic production of probiotics and enzymes?

[Qi Guang-Hai] China currently produces about 140,000 tons of feed enzymes and 60,000 tons of probiotics yearly. The modulation of digestive tract function and microflora is a promising solution for modern animal production industry. The output of these increasingly popular types of feed additives will account for more markets within years.

[Feedinfo News Service] Generally-speaking, can we expect a wider availability of new feed additives in China moving forward?

[Qi Guang-Hai] Yes, it is true. More feed additives will be available in Chinese markets catering to the trends of antibiotic replacing additives and “green” feed additives. I think we are capable of making great progress in both R&D and production of new feed additives thanks to heavy investment.

[Feedinfo News Service] On the topic of antibiotic replacement, to what extent can a more responsible use of antimicrobials in animal production be expected in China?

[Qi Guang-Hai] China has taken a series of measures to deal with this problem. On August 25, 2016, the Chinese government adopted a national plan to counter antibiotic-resistance of bacteria. Recently, the China State Council asked the Ministry of Agriculture to pay close attention to enact and implement the exit plan for medicated feed additives and to eliminate medicated feed additives with potential risks as quickly as possible. With all these efforts taken by Chinese governments and enterprises, the usage of antibiotics in feed as growth promoters will be reduced to a great extent and will perhaps be banned in the future.

[Feedinfo News Service] You also mentioned the focus on “green” feed additives. Is it fair to argue that environmental pressure and consumer demand for safe food is an even bigger social driver in China than in Europe or North America?

[Qi Guang-Hai] I am not sure whether or not the issue is bigger in China than in Europe/North America since I am not familiar with other countries in these two aspects, but the Chinese government has put much more emphasis on environmental control and food safety in the last 10 years. The situation has improved a lot. And to be honest, I think the Chinese government has put more emphasis on environmental control rather than on GDP. Under this new policy, the environment will become better and better in a foreseeable period.

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Professor Qi Guang-Hai is speaking at our first event in Asia, in Bangkok, May 2018. More information can be found here.