Raw Material Availability and Waste
(Feedinfo News Service) - In the white paper, Novus International argues that raw materials used to produce animal feed will be a constant growth driver for Methionine demand. Given this scenario how do you expect the growing biofuel industry to impact raw material availability? How will the growth of biofuel production in the next years affect prices of crops and food sources such as corn? Do you think that next generation enzymes will allow us to use other sources of raw materials that are not going to penalise populations who want to use corn as a food source?
(Giovanni Gasperoni) - This is a very important topic. There is hope that in the future that fiber cellulosic sources of raw material will be used, whereby enzymes will convert a high cellulosic substrate like corn into fuel. But judging by what I have seen and by talking to specialists from Washington, despite grants being given to those who study that technology, it does seem to be at least a decade away.
(Feedinfo News Service) - Does that mean that in the next 10 years we are going to experience further stress as agflation returns?
|"Developing ethanol from corn is even less viable than from sugar. Sugar cane in Brazil looks to be more appealing in terms of yield. And, yet even in Brazil today, ethanol does not seem to be a very competitive source of energy compared to oil."
- Dr. Giovanni Gasperoni
(Giovanni Gasperoni) - This is a very complicated issue. This depends on each individual state's energy policy. However, I can say that changing corn into fuel-ethanol is not sustainable. It will not reduce our dependency on oil. It is not a good alternative.
Developing ethanol from corn is even less viable than from sugar. Sugar cane in Brazil looks to be more appealing in terms of yield. And, yet even in Brazil today, ethanol does not seem to be a very competitive source of energy compared to oil.
So if you want to detach yourself from oil, you need an energy policy which is much more efficient and bold than the one we have in the United States. In the US we are aiming to cut 10% of our gasoline usage. But, if you make sure that the tyre pressure of your car is correct, you save money already without needing to cut your gasoline needs.
Unfortunately this policy in the US means that about a third of the corn crop, about 100 million metric tons, is used to make ethanol. This has inflated the cost of corn, and consequently the cost of chickens and pigs and the other animals. It is a fact and it will continue as long as Washington goes on to support this type of policy.
(Feedinfo News Service) - According to you, Washington will continue to support biofuel development until there will be a commercially-viable alternative which may be 10 years away. During this time, what kind of negative side effects can we expect?
(Giovanni Gasperoni) - From what it looks like, I think the current administration will continue with its policy unless there are clear signs of distress in the food chain, which we did see a few years ago when the oil price went to 170 dollars a barrel and we started getting shortages of food in different parts of the world and riots in places like Haiti, Egypt, Mexico and Thailand.
However, the oil price was not the only cause. There was also drought, another very important factor. As the difference between production and consumption in the world is so tight, when there is a hiccup somewhere, food prices are very quickly inflated. For example, a few years ago, the oil price crisis coincided with drought in Ukraine and Australia and so the price of corn skyrocketed resulting in madness in terms of food prices.
(Feedinfo News Service) - Natural disacters such as droughts and floods will remain a constant threat across the globe. We might therefore see a repeat of what we experienced in 2007. Does that mean there should be an even greater emphasis and need on producing surplus low cost protein?
(Giovanni Gasperoni) - We have seen recently how a natural event such as the volcano cloud created significant disruption in Europe in a service we take for granted - airline travel. Some population groups take food supply for granted. I think the “buffer” line is a little thin. So if there are other hiccups in terms of production they may work against us. I think that calls for a few things:
Firstly, there is still a lot of food being produced around the world that perishes without being used. And there is also a lot of waste produced at household level every day.
And secondly, there is a call for a more industrial way of producing animals ie more efficiently. In other words, if there is better feed conversion, there will be less use of raw materials. From that angle there will be more demand for synthetic Methionine. Remember, I am looking at the next decade, not the next 3 years.
Hopefully in Europe we will start talking again about nuclear power in terms of alternative energy. It is an alternative to oil. Because if you talk about solar panels and wind mills, we are talking about saving 1-2% of our needs - this is not an alternative to fuel.
"There is a call for a more industrial way of producing animals ... In other words, if there is better feed conversion, there will be less use of raw materials. From that angle there will be more demand for synthetic Methionine."
- Dr. Giovanni Gasperoni
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