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as the ensuing blogs, following the publication of the research, demonstrated very clearly. As the saying goes, the jury is still out of this one.


PROCESSED ANIMAL PROTEIN BACK ON AGENDA? One of my sources reports that the first three months of 2012 has seen some interesting work designed to provide a reliable and speedy test of processed animal protein (PAP) in order to determine its provenance. Readers will remember that the EU is keen to re-introduce non-ruminant PAP on the basis that material derived from pigs could be fed to poultry and vice versa. A number of techniques has been developed involving Polymerase Chain Reaction based methods have been developed for the detection of DNA from a number of ruminant and monogastric species, methods which have proved to be robust for PAP materials which generally have been produced under conditions involving exposure to temperatures of 133°C and three times standard atmospheric pressure for up to twenty minutes. Following further assessment in cooperation with the European Union Reference Laboratory for Animal Protein in Feedingstuffs, the method was further assessed in the context of an inter-laboratory variation exercise involving twelve EU institutes. This produced results with an overall rate of false positive results of less than five per cent. The study also demonstrated that a feed sample with a ruminant protein content of only 0.1 per cent scored as positive for ruminant DNA with a confidence in excess of 99 per cent. My informant was not able to say where, as the saying


goes, we go from here, either in the context of the EU or more particularly, that of the European Food Safety Authority. While the feed industry would welcome an additional source of high quality protein, particularly in the context of today’s sky-high soybean prices, the psychological scars inflicted by the BSE crisis still run deep. Supporting a move to allow PAP back in formulations will raise many hackles; I suspect that the industry will take a lot more convincing than has been on offer so far.


COUNTRYWIDE’S DIFFICULT YEAR Countrywide’s Chairman, Nigel Hall confessed to his disappointment in presenting the company’s results for the year ending 31 May 2012. Profits before tax, at £552,000, were sharply down from the equivalent figure of £7.89 million in 2011; the latter did, however, include £5.03 million gained from the sale of fixed assets. Mr Hall noted that he had highlighted a number of challenging conditions in presenting his half-year report, including the state of the economy and the impact of an unusually mild winter which had lowered demand and reduced margins. This had led to a review of the businesses operation structure and to the identification of cost reductions amounting to £2.5 million on an annualised basis, savings that had been implemented during the second half of 2012 with the majority of the savings being realised in Countrywide’s retail operation. Countrywide increased its sales of compound feed in volume


terms by five per cent, reflecting its strategy of continuing to expand its infield ruminant sales team. Results also reflected the first full year’s contribution of Gloucester Animal Feeds, acquired in 2011. Significantly, however, compound feed margins were lower after the particularly strong margins achieved in the year to 31 May 2011. The company’s performance in blends and straights business recovered after a disappointing year in 2011 with gains in both volume and margins. There were a number of other interesting features in


Countrywide’s annual Report and Accounts, not least Chief Executive John Hardman’s gloomy view of the outlook for the economy in general. He thought that the outlook for UK Agriculture remained ‘more positive, particularly for the arable sector where grain prices are expected to remain strong’. He noted, however, that the livestock sector was coming under some short-term pressure on account of rising input prices, adding that the dairy sector ‘continues to remain under price pressure although there may be some light now at the end of the tunnel’. He noted that variable weather around the world coupled with growing global food demand continues to drive volatile world commodity prices as crop yields and, consequently, prices fluctuated albeit on a rising trend. Countrywide continued its policy of buying compound feed ingredients up to a year ahead as a hedge against commodity price increases, thus protecting the Group’s business from short- term commodity price movements.


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  


 


           


 


 FEED COMPOUNDER OCTOBER 2012 PAGE 15 


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