The calll has been made in a report entitled The feed behind our food, published by leading international businesses and non-governmental organisations, convened by sustainability non-profit outfit Forum for the Future.
The document highlights the important role animal feed plays in the food industry, and its significant impacts on environmental health and food security.
The call comes as nearly half of global agricultural land is used for livestock feed production and more than a fifth of wild caught fish is fed to animals. The report claims feed contributes to 45% of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production, much of it comprising high-value foods rich in nutrition, such as soy and maize.
Sandra Vijn, a director of environmental organisation WWF US’ food programme, said: “It will be very challenging to meet the future demands for livestock and farmed fish products in sustainable ways without transforming the way we produce animal feed.
“Food and feed companies alike need to recognise the risks and opportunities this presents to their businesses and work together to achieve this transformation. This report serves as a guide for how they can begin to do that.”
Supermarket chain Waitrose is working towards using 100% sustainable soy and is sourcing more feed raw materials from the UK and Europe.
“Looking at new approaches to feeding livestock helps us meet our sustainability targets and is also good for business,” said Waitrose agriculture manager Duncan Sinclair. “Customers increasingly demand more transparency, not just on what goes into a product but also on how it is produced.
“Addressing the sustainability of animal feed by bringing it closer to home through our sustainable forage protein project has not only benefited the environment but has helped our farmers improve efficiency.”
The report also highlights that companies such as Calysta, Protix, Ynsect and Evonik are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in scaling-up production of innovative, traceable feed ingredients. This includes insect-based protein, oil from natural marine algae, feed additives like amino acids, and protein derived from methane-eating bacteria.
Simon Billing, the Protein Challenge 2040 lead at Forum for the Future, said: “Collaboration across the supply chain is critical to address the environmental impacts of feed.
“This report is the first step in helping retail and foodservice professionals start to build knowledge of their feed security, and join forces with their suppliers, including producers and feed companies, to formulate strategies together to speed up progress on sustainable animal feed.”