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UK pig sector should have access to PAP, but barriers to use must be overcome

15th Dec 2022 / By Alistair Driver

UK pig producers should be given the same opportunity as their EU counterparts to use Processed Animal Protein (PAP) as a sustainable feed ingredient, according to the NPA’s Pig Industry Group.

pigs feedingHowever, while the NPA wants the Government to approve the process, under strict conditions to ensure its safety, it has stressed that a number of barriers would need to be overcome before PAP could be used in practice, including logistics, cost and public acceptability.

The NPA’s Pig Industry Group (PIG) discussed the association’s position on PAP at its December meeting.

PAP is now legal in the EU, enabling pig producers to include poultry protein in pig feed, under strict conditions, and vice versa. However, NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson stressed that usage of pig PAP on EU poultry farms predominantly, remains ‘very low’.

While around 1.3 million tonnes of pig and poultry PAP is produced annually, about 780,000t goes into fish and pet food, with most of the remainder, about 500,000t, exported to third countries.

Lizzie explained how the conditions attached to use, including single species processes ‘from end to end’, in both milling and transport, to guarantee pig PAP can’t be fed to pigs and the same for poultry, allied with a bureaucratic registration process and the sheer costs involved have so far deterred any serious investment in the process.

However, the attractions of PAP as a sustainable alternative protein that could ultimately help lower our environmental impact and pig feed costs, and offer new markets for pig products, while also playing an important role in reducing food waste, should not be dismissed, she said.

It is not currently legal to feed PAP to pigs or poultry in the UK, but as the Government considers its position, following the Brexit Freedom’s Bill, Lizzie said: “We believe that GB producers deserve the same opportunities as EU producers, so we support a policy which would allow the feeding of pig PAP to poultry and vice versa, provided it is properly regulated.”

The requirement for traceability poses a challenge to any change in policy because most UK pig feed production sites are cross-sector, which would make demonstrating that there is no crossover more challenging than having a single species feed production facility.

In addition to PAP being legally permitted and properly regulated, it would need to be accepted by retailers and consumers, if it was ever to be a viable option.

PIG discussed the need to gauge the sentiments of the supply chain and consumers and to ensure consistency in approach among retailers before any serious attempt to use it is made. Changes to assurance schemes like Red Tractor and RSPCA Assured would also be needed, and there would need to be clarity on how feeding PAP would impact on the international pork trade, while imported product would need to abide by the same ruling as in GB.

While a number of questions were raised about the potential use of PAP, there was consensus among PIG about the NPA’s approach to push for legalisation, accompanied by strict controls, while acknowledging the various barriers to be overcome. 

“If it is accepted by the supply chain and it saves cost and is more sustainable, then I would be open to using it. It can only be a good thing. But we need to make sure the supply chain and our customers are comfortable with it and that it is practical for suppliers to produce it,” one producer member said, sentiments echoed across the group.