Behind the cancellation of GMO-free feed for poultry, there may be nothing but a price tussle between producers and retailers.
GM-free feeding: Laboratory feed for broilers
Frankfurter Rundschau, 10 Mar 2014
English translation of German original at: http://bit.ly/1ivjaW3
The German poultry industry announces the end of GMO-free feeding claiming there is not enough non-GMO soy from South America. The reasoning is questionable, not all market participants agree.
German broilers, laying hens, and turkeys will be reared also on GMO feed in the future. This decision has recently been announced by the German Poultry Association (ZDG). Members are, among others, the broiler market leaders PHW (Wiesenhof) and Roth-kötter. The organization justifies the exit from GMO-free feeding, practiced since 2000, by pointing out that there is an insufficient availability of non-GM soy from South America.
However, it is becoming apparent: This story is not completely true. For South America reports that instead of being less this year, there will be even ten percent more soybeans from GMO-free production, explains the chief of the Brazilian industry organization ABRANGE, Ricardo Tatesuzi de Sousa.
A similar reaction comes from the German Association Food without Genetic Engineering (VLOG). It licenses the green seal "Ohne GenTechnik" (no genetic engineering) used by some egg and poultry producers. Enough conventional soy will be imported to Europe, especially since new suppliers in Brazil have discovered the market for GMO-free raw materials, according to VLOG director Alexander Hissting.
NOT ALL MARKET PLAYERS HAVE JOINED
Moreover, some not so unimportant market participants have distanced themselves from the message of the Poultry Association. For example, poultry producer Plukon (formerly Stolle ) who, with its annual turnover of €540 million, can rival with the industry’s number two, Rothkötter (€ 820 million). Or Deutsche Frühstücksei who had the Agrarzeitung announce that thanks to their own feed mill and an Austrian supplier who imports the coveted protein feed from Brazil, the company is "completely self-sufficient." Even the Rewe grocery chain declared promptly, "Chickens of our home brands remain GMO-free."
This retailer who sells its GMO-free reared fresh poultry under the Pro Planet brand label even seems to be ahead of the development. For instead of complaining about an alleged deficit in supply from South America, the store backs proactive ambitions to procure the protein components from Europe. Promoted in several EU countries as "protein strategy", it aims at the domestic cultivation of soybean as well as the substitution of these beans by field beans or peas from the region. Thus Rewe is evolving to become an important pioneer of this strategy.
Therefore, industry observers suspect that the withdrawal of the association’s members is for different reasons. For instance, GMO-free soy is about one-third more expensive than conventional (GMO) soy, according to the Lebensmittelzeitung. According to Heike Moldenhauer, expert for genetic engineering at the environmental organization BUND, apparently retailers are not prepared to pay the poultry producers this premium accounting for about eight cents per chicken.
Consequently, it could be that behind the cancellation of GMO-free feed there is ultimately nothing other but a price tussle between producers and retailers.