Game changing feed mill innovations help drive growth of organic feed sector

Posted on June 29, 2017 by morwebadmin

As strong momentum continues in organic food demand in North America and around the globe, advances at the feed mill level are rapidly evolving to help everyone from producers to retailers ensure consistent supply and capitalize on expanding opportunities.

“Our focus is always on supporting farmers and their industries, to have the resources required to provide the best nutrition for their animals and take advantage of evolving market demands,” says Dr. Nancy Fischer, a nutritionist with Country Junction Feeds. The company is celebrating a nine-year anniversary as the first major full line commercial feed mill in Western Canada to offer a broad range of pelleted and crumbled certified organic feed.

“The organic market continues to be an area where the demand is far higher than the supply,” says Fischer. “One of the major hurdles is a lack of certified organic feed. Nine years after we started down this pathway, we are continuing to invest and innovate at the mill level, while partnering with producers and industry, to help address this need.”

Rising demand

Progress at the mill and feed supply level is becoming a game changer for organic meat and poultry production. Opportunities across the organic crop, livestock and value-added product sectors are opening up as a result. According to industry surveys, organic meat and poultry experienced its highest ever yearly gain in 2016: climbing more than 17% in the U.S. alone. But further growth has been restricted by the challenge of finding enough organic feed.

“Whether the end market is organic or non-organic conventional, we want to provide our customers with a full line of options to meet both mainstream and niche markets – we don’t want supply to be a barrier,” says Fischer. “That means taking advantage of the latest science and technology, adopting the right certification programs, and always advancing our infrastructure, processes, purchasing and relationships to meet our customers’ needs. Together we have made very strong advances to increase the supply of certified organic feed.”

Pathways to progress

Progress is now underway across the feed industry, with Country Junction Feeds helping to lead the charge among a new generation of mills and suppliers that are investing and upgrading to offer diversified and specialized products. This includes options that address increased transparency and verification requirements, while aligning with key market growth areas.

Headquartered in Western Canada, Country Junction Feeds now services customers across the region, country and into the U.S. via its broadening partner and distribution network. In addition to its certified organic feed progress, the company has become one of the first feed mills in Western Canada to achieve complete ionophore and antibiotic-free status. This ensures all feed sourced from Country Junction Feeds is able to meet the strict requirements of “No Antibiotics Ever (NAE)” production and related claims, while the company’s certified organic feed lines are able to meet key standards such as those of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and of Canadian Organic Regime (COR) organic labels.

“Our approach has been to always have a proactive mindset – to be an early adopter and leader in these and other emerging areas,” says Bernie Grumpelt, a ruminant nutritionist with Country Junction Feeds. “This allows our customers and partners to have confidence we are fully invested in helping them keep up to date. We want them to have access to the greatest range of options available for whatever market opportunities they wish to pursue. As an early adopter, we are able to show a strong track record of meeting requirements and serving as a reliable, consistent supplier.”

This direction Country Junction Feeds has headed reflects where more of the feed business is going every year, says Grumpelt. “Our goal is to stay at the forefront.”

Future of feed

Industry reports emphasize the need for continued strong growth in the organic feed sector to meet organic food demand projections for the next decade and beyond. This will require continued advances at feed mills to meet infrastructure, process, record keeping and additional certification requirements. This will also require mills to work closely with growers to ensure adequate supply of certified organic feed ingredients.

“Our entire team and network in Canada and the U.S. has worked hard in both of these areas to build a model that is sustainable and scalable,” says Darrell Kimmel, manager of Country Junction Feeds, part of the leadership team that has overseen recent stages of the mill’s evolution. “This has involved many years of planning and investing in the future, as well as taking advantage of the latest scientific and technological innovations.”

As agriculture continues to forge through the current period of major transformation and shifting demands, “What is the future of feed?” has emerged as a key question, says Kimmel. “We’ve thought a lot about this question as we strive to provide solutions. Today we are seeing more and more that the future is now. It’s an exciting time to be in this business.”

The only full line feed mill producing organic feeds in Alberta