What does it take?

Shortages of all sorts and sizes have made the headlines during the last couple of months. Including dark pictures about the consequences for industries and consumers alike. Also for the pet food industry. Where ingredient-cost (can) weigh substantially in the total mix of cost.

However, what is much less reported upon is the search for solutions for these recurring events. Whereas it is beyond any doubt that structural solutions need to be found to fight the noticeable cyclical fluctuations with an upward trend.

Dry wellThe energy market is tightly controlled by a few hands full of countries and companies that own the oil-wells. On the short-term these few hands full can manipulate supply and thus price, but on longer-term nature will do so; the wells will be dry! So from an industry perspective there is not a great deal we can do. Or, is there? By applying more solar and wind-energy? Or by re-installing water-turbines where appropriate?

The scarcity of key ingredients for the pet food industry is becoming more evident by the year. And again, which initiatives does the industry take to find solutions for this scarcity? Not a great many; at least not noticeable to the naked eye.

Whereas the solution might be to dedicate more land surface to grow ingredients that make sense for the pet food industry. Not necessarily for commodities that have been part and parcel of this industry for the last 7-8 decades or so, but for commodities that are less known in the countries where the bulk of pet food manufacturing takes place. Ask yourself what would have happened if dry pet foods would have been developed surrounded by field of sorghum and flax instead of corn and wheat. One could argue that commodities then need to be shipped over big distances, but to an extent that already happens today anyway.

In other words can the tradition be broken by applying alternative ingredients that have a sustainable purpose? Probably to be found in Africa where the sub-Saharan landmass is in general very fertile and crops can be abundant if managed properly.

Maybe using land that is now under-utilised by growing crops that can be used for pet foods (and not so much for human foods) creates the desired win-win-win situation: countries get a higher income from agriculture, the pet food industry becomes less dependent upon world commodity supplies (and its fluctuations) and the industry doesn’t tap into a food source that is meant for human consumption.

The question however as always is: what does it take to start an initiative of these proportions and how can speculation that is at the root of the fluctuations today be kept at bay?

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