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How the specialty feed ingredients industry contributes to the reduction of the environmental footprint

The world population continues to increase, with over 9 billion people predicted in 2050. Correspondingly, the requirement for protein to feed the growing world population will rise. Thus, as agricultural production is increasingly concentrated in specific regions, using all natural resources as wisely and sparingly as possible is becoming more important than ever.


The use of specialty feed ingredients (SFIs) can contribute to more resource-efficient farming, for instance by making it possible to reduce the total amount of feed needed by farm animals in order to meet their nutritional requirement. SFIs can also promote a better use of

agricultural and industrial co- and by-products in feed, hence contributing to a more circular economy. This allows limiting the land needed to grow animal feed, hence lowering the environmental impact of livestock production. More recently, a surge in innovative SFIs, specifically targeted to directly curb environmental emissions such as methane, has further underlined the crucial role of SFIs in limiting the environmental impact of livestock production.


This is why our sector understands itself as a key player in making livestock farming more resource-efficient, sustainable and fit for the future.

Societal drivers affecting the European animal food chain

Increasing global demand for food of animal origin, including meat, fish, milk and eggs
Pressure on available feed resources
Demand for reduced environmental impact of animal production
Demand for further reduction of the use of antimicrobials
Further globalisation of trade in products of animal origin

The needs of the feed and livestock chain

Access to safe cost-effective feed and services
Clear and transparent legislative framework
Improved image (regarding animal welfare, quality and safety of animal products)
Innovating approaches to mitigate the environmental impact of production systems
Continuously improving working conditions
Bringing innovative science fast to the market place

What the specialty feed ingredients industry offers today

Use of co-products from other processing industries, reducing the need for land-grown crops
Ability to source feed with specific downstream requirements to accommodate market demand
Reduction of the environmental impact of livestock farming through resource-efficient feed production
Modern manufacturing techniques for the production of high quality feed additives

How the specialty feed ingredients industry can shape the future

Developing a harmonised environmental footprint methodology, based on Life Cycle Analysis, involving the whole chain
Developing common metrics that can help to calculate a broader range of resource efficiency indicators
Using feed ingredients more efficiently to reduce environmental footprints
Securing the long-term supply of feed ingredients
Facilitating the transition to a mainstream market of responsibly produced feed materials
Supporting the reprocessing of former foodstuffs, by-products from the food industry, into high quality animal feed (circular economy)

Specialty Feed Ingredients Sustainability (SFIS) Project

The SFIS Global Consortium, led by the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) and the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA), has been working to assess the positive impact of specialty feed ingredients on the environmental footprint of livestock production. The consortium has brought together the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), the Japan Feed Manufacturers Association (JFMA) and the Brazilian Feed Industry Association (Sindirações), as well as companies active in the production of feed and specialty feed ingredients.

The SFIS project phase 3 aimed to achieve a harmonized approach for the assessment of the use of SFIs in animal feeding on a cradle to farm gate approach. This included the production of the SFIs from cradle to factory gate as well as the use on the farm and the further recycling or application of manure. Based on this approach, future LCAs for animal products should become transparent, reliable and thus, comparable.
The SFIS Phase 3 looked at Australia, US and Europe pigs and poultry and results showed an improvement, mainly due to improved feed conversion rates. The SFIS Phase 3 was completed in 2022.

Read more

SFIS project Phase 3 –
Australia results – Graphic Overview


SFIS project Phase 3 –
North America results – Graphic Overview


SFIS project Phase 3 –
Europe results – Graphic Overview


Phase 1 and 2 are completed, and the results are shown below. The overall goal, besides assessing the environmental performance impact of feed additives, has been the establishment of a harmonized approach for the assessment of the use of SFIs in animal feeding “from cradle to farm gate”. This has been achieved with the publication of the FAO Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Guidelines on Feed Additives, published in December 2020, and for which the SFIS project has provided the ground work.

SFIS Project -
Europe results


SFIS Project - North
America results


SFIS Project - South
America results


FEFANA Sustainability
Steering Group

In 2021, FEFANA has set up a new strategic expert group – the Sustainability Steering Group (SSG), tasked with sub-projects related to sustainability on a technical and regulatory level. Part of the work of the SSG includes collaborations discussing technical aspects of the environmental footprinting for specialty feed ingredients (PEF, PEFCR, LCA), as well as aspects of communicating the benefits of such ingredients along the feed chain.

FEFANA members have contributed to position papers, explanatory notes and videos explaining our industry’s pivotal role in sustainable livestock farming. Have a look at these documents and videos via the links below or via the Info Centre tab.

The Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy: Delivering on shared objectives


The European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy: contribution of the SFI Industry

Position paper

Specialty Feed Ingredients’ contribution to sustainable animal farming


Specialty Feed Ingredients: a contribution to animal welfare


Feed additives in organic farming


See the videos


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