The Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER) found in a new report that U.S. domestic livestock and pets consumed nearly 284 million tons of safe, high-quality and nutritious food in 2019. The report also provides expert economic analysis on how the coronavirus pandemic may impact the industry’s growth over the next five years.
“In 2017, IFEEDER released first-of-its-kind research that gave the U.S. animal feed industry the most precise, comprehensive analysis of the diverse ingredients used and consumed by domestic livestock,” said Robert Cooper, IFEEDER’s executive director. “Our study now includes new ingredients, such as forages and other roughage products, and species, such as dogs and cats, to provide the most accurate picture of the enormous volume of animal food consumed annually.”
Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS), the economic and analysis firm that performed the study, found that in 2019, the industry’s 5,836 manufacturing facilities produced at least 283.8 million tons of animal feed. The top three animal feed consumers included beef cattle at 64.5 million tons, hogs at 61.8 million tons and broiler chickens at 60.8 million tons.
Corn, the most abundantly produced crop in the United States, made up slightly more than half (52%) of the total amount of compounded feed consumed and when combined with soybean meal (12%) and dried distillers’ grains with solubles (DDGs) (11%), represented more than 75% of all feed tonnage consumed in 2019. DIS also reported on a number of other ingredients used in animal diets, including wheat middlings and wheat bran (3%), animal byproduct meals (3%), corn gluten feed/meal (2%), canola meal (2%), animal fats (2%), other processed plant byproducts (1%) and more.
Using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s November 2020 data, DIS established a baseline of the value and volume of feed for six major categories of livestock and poultry (i.e., broilers, layers, turkeys, hogs, dairy cows and beef cattle) and then provided three, forward-looking scenarios for the feed sector based on COVID-19's impacts. DIS estimated the baseline consumption at the beginning of 2020 at 252.6 million tons (excluding forages and roughages) with an estimated value of $66.7 billion, under normal production circumstances without the effects of the pandemic. With COVID-19, the projected consumption rate fell 1.7% to roughly 248.4 million tons, a difference of 4.2 million tons less feed consumed worth $1.6 billion, leaving the industry with a total post-COVID-19 value of $47.5 billion.
In a worst-case scenario, where the industry encounters further disruptions in processing and slaughter numbers or potential trade issues, DIS estimated 2025 animal food production could further decrease by 4.5% to 237.2 million tons at a value of $45.4 billion. In an expected-case scenario, where the industry continues business as usual without any further major disruptions, DIS estimated that by 2025 animal food production could increase by 2.5% to 254.6 million tons worth roughly $48.8 billion. In a best-case scenario, where the hotel, retail and institution sectors of the economy recover quickly and travel and trade conditions dramatically improve, DIS estimated that by 2025 feed production could increase by 5.9% to 263.1 million tons, valued at $50.4 billion.
“The demand for animal food is strong and continues to grow, despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cooper said. “While we may feel some of the short-term economic repercussions and disruptions to the food chain from the coronavirus pandemic, our industry is resilient and well-positioned to continue supporting America’s food and pet food supply for the future.”
Upon the report’s release, the American Feed Industry Association’s President and CEO Constance Cullman stated that “this report demonstrates that supporting our essential agricultural workforce with better access to COVID-19 prevention tools, testing and vaccines in rural America will have a positive impact on our long-term economic growth and contribution to local economies. Our industry has responded and adapted very well to the new way of safely operating during the crisis and our local and state policy leaders can show their support by continuing to prioritize these workers in their vaccine rollouts and COVID response plans.”
The full report, data, maps and graphics can be found at ifeeder.org/feeddata.