There was plenty of good news on the menu at the third BETA Feed Industry Conference at Whittlebury Hall near Towcester, where almost 70 delegates were treated to a topical program of informative and thought-provoking presentations.
Tim Franck of the Foods Standards Agency’s Animal Feeds Unit was the first speaker to take to the podium, providing a clear picture of the latest legislation applicable to the industry.
Robert Clegg of Mars Horsecare explored the ongoing sourcing of non-GM soya in a climate where cross-contamination from GM soya cannot be ruled out, premiums for non-GM crops continue to rise and there is a shared supply chain with the U.K. feed industry, which is increasingly using non-GM Soya in animal feed.
The impact of the BETA NOPS Code - set up to help prevent contamination by naturally prohibited substances in feed - was highlighted by Dr. Mark Dunnett of IEN who looked at the way in which it was helping to cut positive tests in finished products and raw materials.
He reported that the NOPS Code was having a beneficial effect overall and revealed that he had found a reduction in the contamination of finished feed, increased raw material testing, a growing use of herbals and a downward trend for morphine-related contamination.
Using information supplied by the British Horse Racing Authority, Dunnett was able to show that there had been a considerable reduction in the incidence of post-race morphine detection between 2011 and 2012, with figures cut dramatically.
Simon Wetherald, owner of Bardsey Mills, in West Yorkshire, and winner of the Virbac Equine SQP of the Year award, presented an honest – and highly amusing – view of the feed business from a retailer’s perspective, before the draft of a new BETA Feed Code and label guidance was addressed by Ruth Bishop of Ruth Bishop Consulting. She identified key elements of the code and explained the way it would work in relation to the regulatory landscape of feed and medicine law, and equestrian sport. The draft of the BETA Feed Code Part 1 was currently being reviewed by government agencies and feedback from members of the feed industry was welcomed. The BETA Code will assist manufacturers of horse feed and supplements in understanding the legislation and its interpretation of them.
Nicky Talbot of market research specialist Sportwise used information taken from BETA’s National Equestrian Research Panel to paint a positive view on consumer buying patterns, revealing that one in six horse owners are expecting to spend more on feed and supplements over the next six to 12 months compared with one in 20 in 2011.