Market Opportunities for Pulses in Animal Feed - PulsePoint
August 17, 2018
Pet food, aquaculture, and animal feed shows room for growth
By Delaney Seiferling
The Canadian pulse industry has long been focused on the development of new markets for pulses and pulse ingredients, but that focus was even further amplified with the announcement of a goal to have new markets or uses for 25 per cent of Canadian pulses by 2025.
For example, the industry identified an area that holds great potential to help meet the “25 by 25” target is the feed industry, which includes livestock, aquaculture, and pet food.
Before beginning any promotional work in this area, the Canadian industry wanted to get an idea of how the feed industry works, domestically and internationally, and if and where pulses are already being used.
What they learned was that there is huge room for growth, especially in the area of aquaculture in Asia, where seafood is a major part of the culture, says Tanya Der, Pulse Canada’s Manager of Food Innovation and Marketing.
Some recent research shows that currently the aquaculture industry in Asia uses minor amounts of pulses, mostly peas, in some aquaculture feeds in China, but that there is potential for growth.
Previously decisions around ingredients for aquaculture feed have been specific to pricing, but there have been some indications this is changing. Consistent volumes are also required as feed manufacturers are hesitant to switch between ingredients due to limited supplies, Der says.
“We are hearing that sustainable volumes are needed by these suppliers, because the industry is so massive and the volumes are so large,” she says. “There is a lot of pressure right now with production issues and the feed that is not sustainable. So aside from cost, consistent supply is important.”
Another potential angle for Canadian pulses is that they are a higher quality ingredient than the currently used soy, fishmeal, corn, and grains by-products. Previous research has shown that peas are a functional and nutritionally sound ingredient for aquaculture feed, with the potential to replace alternative protein and energy sources, while maintaining growth and performance.
Previous research has also shown that peas can be used as nutritionally functional binder for aquaculture feed pellets and can increase pellet stability, which is important as aquaculture pellets need to remain stable while submerged in water.
Finally, the potential for peas to lower feed costs in aquaculture is also attractive, Der says. Aquaculture feeds are inherently more expensive than traditional livestock feeds, such as those in the swine and poultry markets.
Going forward, Pulse Canada, who has taken a leadership role in this area on behalf of the Canadian industry, plans to better understand the potential for pulses in aquaculture and livestock feed in China and Asia by engaging with large livestock and feed companies. The goal is to better understand how pulses are currently being used as feed, and what potential strategies can be developed to increase this usage.
In the pet food industry, the Canadian industry has already been experiencing growth in the use of pulse ingredients, and believes there is even more potential. In this area, the health benefits of pulses for pets have already been proven.
Dr. Lynn Weber, a researcher and professor with the University of Saskatchewan, has done extensive research on the topic. She has proven through her research that including pulse starches in both cat and dog food had a positive effect on the health of the animals, through improved weight control and lowered rates of diabetes.
Several manufacturers are already selling pet food that includes pulses, mostly peas, and marketing it as a healthier option, Der says. However, the amount of pulses used as pet food ingredients in North America is still quite low.
Research undertaken by the Canadian and United States (U.S.) pulse industries showed that inclusion rates for pulses in pet food are between 1.5 to 3.5 per cent in Canada and the U.S., says Jackie Tenuta, Pulse Canada’s Director of Market Development.
“We knew there was definitely a market there, but we really had no idea what was going into pet food from a pulse ingredient perspective. So now we are using this information as one of the inputs for developing a strategy for pet food,” she says.
The Canadian industry is currently doing stakeholder consultations to determine what marketing activities and research is needed to drive an increased use of peas in pet food. One question that needs to be answered is if there is a need for more research to substantiate the nutrition, health, and sustainability benefits for pea ingredients in pet food.
“We have a lot of data on pulses in the pet food market here,” says Julianne Curran, Pulse Canada’s Vice President of Food and Health. “Now we want to actually validate the opportunities and use insights from a broad group of stakeholders on the marketing and research strategy before we proceed.”
The feed strategy that has been developed collectively amongst the Canadian pulse industry will also target pet food manufacturers in Europe, aquaculture industries across East Asia, and China’s feed manufacturers.