A comprehensive survey of world feed production shows that China, not the United States, is the world’s largest producer of feed grains and oilseeds.
Global feed tonnage hit a record estimated 873 million metric tons last year, according to a worldwide survey of 132 countries by Alltech, a global animal health and nutrition company operating in 128 countries and headquartered in Lexington, Ky.
"This new global estimate is quite significant, especially when compared to the 2010 WATT report, which indicated 717.6 million metric tons," said Aidan Connolly, vice president of corporate accounts at Alltech. "This new estimate is a more accurate number and demonstrates that agriculture is more important than anyone has given it credit for up until now."
Connolly cautions that Alltech’s numbers cannot be compared directly with WATT’s survey, but says feed production worldwide is probably growing at an annual average rate of between 4 percent and 5 percent. Most of the growth is occurring in the developing world, particularly China and India, where consumption of animal products is rising rapidly. Growth is also occurring in countries that export large quantities of feed, such as the United States and Brazil.
One of the major surprises of the survey is that China, with production of 175.4 million metric tons, surpassed the United States, with 165 million metric tons, as the world’s largest producer of feed crops. China’s production figure is conservative because on-farm mixing has not been accounted for, says Connolly. "On-farm mixing could add an additional 300 million metric tons," he says.
In terms of regions, Asia with 305 million metric tons produces more feed crops than either North or South America or Europe. Following Asia in feed production are Europe with 200 million metric tons, North America with 185 million metric tons, Latin America with 125 million metric tons, and the Middle East and Africa with 47 million.
Connolly notes that meat consumption is expected to grow by about 2.5 percent annually and aquaculture by 8.4 percent. "Growth of 2.5 percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but it represents a huge increase from now until 2050—a doubling of the amount of meat consumed in the next 30 years," Connolly says. "Doubling would be the conservative estimate. Some believe it will triple."
The survey is the first ever for Alltech and does not include forages fed to dairy cattle. "That forage could be up to five times the amount of feed dairy operations are feeding," he adds. The company hopes to complete a similar survey next year, which could give year-over-year comparisons of worldwide price responses.
"We have seen more interest in feed production over the last 15 months than we have over the past 15 years," notes Connolly.