As reported elsewhere by Dr. Ioannis Mavromichalis in Feed Strategy:

«Right now, TV broadcasters already advise there might be a shortage of wheat for bread and pasta – at least for this year. The war between Russia and Ukraine has placed a huge question mark over wheat supplies in the near future. If I am not mistaken, both countries account for more than 40% of global wheat exports. I am a skeptic when it comes to bread and pasta – but I can place a sure bet that there will be little wheat left to feed animals. That is in areas that feed wheat, because I doubt Iowa will feel a difference. It is timely, I believe, to question the wisdom of abandoning the post-war principle of wheat self-sufficiency, but that is another story……

So, with wheat in short supply as a feed ingredient, the question is what to replace it with. The obvious answer is corn, but corn is in a tight spot as well. Inflation, logistics, politics, unfavorable predictions regarding stocks and yields all make corn prices almost prohibitive to consider importing it over long distances. So, the answer is just one: go local. So, look around and locate local agro-industrial products.» (quotation from here)

Therefore, from a circular economy perspective, food losses can potentially become animal feed ingredients. Indeed the shift towards more sustainable ingredients in animal feed formulation through the recycling of food surplus can improve the sustainability of the entire pig production system (Veldkamp et al., 2020; Pinotti et al., 2021). In this way, the surplus food is not considered a waste but an existing resource rich in nutrients that can be recovered and enhanced by becoming part of the food chain again. This strategy allows to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of animal products with a consequent reduction in competition for human edible cereals. The food leftover is also called former food products (FFPs) or bakery by-products (BBPs) and includes all those foods produced by the bakery and confectionery industries that for logistical or production reasons or problems with packaging are no longer suitable for human consumption (EC regulation No 68/2013). If used as animal feed former food products don’t involve any health risks because they have been produced according to European safety standards (Pinotti et al., 2021; Luciano et al., 2020). These material are mainly foods produced for humans such as cookies, packaged snacks, waffles, chocolate and cakes, but also baked goods such as pasta, bread and salty cakes. They represent a source of higher digestible starch compared to common cereals because they have been previously heat-treated/cooked. For this reason, they are suitable for young animals (e.g piglets), which are not yet able to digest starch efficiently. Furthermore, FFPs are dense-energy foods in fact they are rich in fats and simple sugars (Pinotti et al., 2021). These features not only facilitate the feed production from a technological point of view, since it’s not necessary to add additional lipids to the formulation, but they also increase the feed energy. Thus, they are also suitable feed for growing and fattening pigs since they have an average daily gain > 1 kg. Finally different studies shown that this FFPs as alternative ingredients don’t have any detrimental effect on animals’ growth performance, on digestibility and on general animal wellbeing (Tretola et al., 2019; Luciano et al., 2021; Luciano et. al., 2022). To conclude, from a circular economy point of view, FFPs are a valuable and sustainable source of nutrients which can limits food losses, the use of natural resources and the livestock production footprint on the environment, also in a historical period marked by important and tragic events at the same time.

by Sharon Mazzoleni and Luciano Pinotti