Potential £40m boost from fallen livestock

The potential for an annual £40m boost to the UK meat industry has been highlighted in a new report for the Royal Agricultural College (RAC).

The report, A Creative Study into the Scope of Increasing Value from Fallen Livestock and Animal By-products, was presented by Stewart Houston to the House of Lords on 12 June.

Bpex chairman and a board member of the Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), Houston compiled the report for the RAC 100 Club.

The gist of the report was based on the limited natural resources the Earth has to offer and the increase in global demand for food.   

Highlighting the low exploitation of fallen livestock, Houston took a broad approach to the livestock production sectors and how the industry could increase value from fallen stock and animal by-products. He revealed that larger volumes of good quality animal by-products are likely to offer greater potential for supplying new and emerging markets ­— for example, in renewable energy and feed for aquaculture.

Houston said: “As much as possible, I have focused on practical solutions (existing and near-market) that can be introduced and explored now.

“Livestock producers and others may be able to reduce costs of fallen stock disposal, on average by as much as 25% (or £10m across all sectors), and increase value from unavoidable fallen stock and animal by-products by a further £17-£20m.”

Houston added that anyone who has a role in the handling of livestock needs to start thinking outside the box in the way they manage their business. They also need think about ways to exploit the volume in loss of livestock, so that it becomes less of a liability and more of an asset.

He said that things could not be changed by individual farmers, but would need a coordinated effort from the whole industry.

At the moment, the UK produces around 2.5m tonnes of animal by-product (ABP) a year. About 90% of ABPs are processed through rendering, with other treatments taking up the rest.

Historically, the cost of disposal fell on producers, but more recently, the value of some ABPs – ingredients for pet food and biofuel ­– have increased.

The increase in the value of ABPs could be seen as a step in the right direction for the industry. Houston said: “The challenge is to transfer more and more material from being a costly liability to a valued commodity, by increasing the gross value to a maximum, by whatever means.”

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