Reduce waste, improve efficiency: How feed additives contribute to the circular economy [VIDEO]

Christos Antipatis, global SMT additives director with Cargill Animal Nutrition, explores ways improve performance while lessening feed's environmental impact.

Christos Antipatis, global SMT additives director with Cargill Animal Nutrition and panelist at the upcoming Feed Mill of the Future Conference, explores ways feed additives can be used to contribute to the circular economy while improving animal performance and lessening the feed sector's environmental impact.

Transcription of Feed Strategy Chat with Christos Antipatis, global SMT additives director, Cargill Animal Nutrition

Jackie Roembke, editor-in-chief, WATT Feed Brands and Feed Strategy: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Feed Strategy Chat. Iโ€™m your host, Jackie Roembke, editor-in-chief of WATT Feed Brands and Feed Strategy magazine.

This edition of Feed Strategy Chat is brought to you by the Feed Mill of the Future Conference. This half-day event will bring together leading feed industry experts to examine emerging feed mill technologies. The conference will be held on January 30 at IPPE 2024. It is produced by Feed Strategy and Feed & Grain, and organized in partnership with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). To learn more about the 2024 edition of the Feed Mill of the Future Conference, visit

Today weโ€™re joined by Christos Antipatis, global SMT additives director for Cargill Animal Nutrition. Heโ€™s here to explore how feed additives contribute to the circular economy through waste reduction and by enhancing feed efficiency.

Hi Christos, how are you today?

Christos Antipatis, global SMT additives director, Cargill Animal Nutrition: I am doing well. Thank you.

Roembke: Thank you. Excellent. Great. Well, let's get right into it. Please identify the ways feed additives can be leveraged to reduce waste in the agrifood supply chain.

Antipatis: Yeah, thank you for the question. First of all, to achieve higher performance and reduce environmental impacts. Feed additives are generally included in the everyday feeding of animals. They play a vital role in reducing waste, maximizing nutrition and enhancing efficiency. They can directly support the animal, for example, support intestinal microbiota, strengthen the immune system, and contribute to the general well-being, provide vitamins and minerals, which in turn has a positive effect on the performance of the animals.

There are also certain feed additives that are added in the ration that are shown to ensure a certain constant feed hygiene, like mycotoxin binders, to reduce the load of mycotoxin in the feed. Without nutritional and technological additives, animals would have to eat much more to meet their nutritional requirements for performance.

In most instances, not all species can spend the entire day eating large amounts of feed, and of course, the feed costs will rise. A good example is feed enzymes that are helping the animal to digest nutrients from the feed that otherwise will be excreted into the environment. With this (feed enzymes) we can use alternative raw materials, reduce emissions to the environment, optimize animal performance and improve feed costs.

In the absence of acidifiers, pre-, pro- and post-biotics and also phytogenic substances known for their benefits as gut stabilizers, antimicrobial bioactives, and antioxidants, animal welfare health and performance would be affected. Environmental pollution from underutilized nutrients would potentially be higher as more phosphorus and nitrogen will be excreted by the animals in the absence of digestive enhancers, e.g. phytogenic substances and enzymes.

Also, we can have higher aerial ammonia concentrations, which would be a menace, not only in the house but to the animals and in their health and performance, but also for the worker safety. In the end, it can contribute to higher pollution in the atmosphere, the land and in the water.

Roembke: Now, as a leader in this space, what specific strategies or innovations has Cargill implemented to minimize loss and maximize efficiency throughout the feed production process?

Antipatis: Looking across swine and poultry at Cargill, we have developed additives targeted to do more with less, to improve the feed conversion ratio, digestibility-enhancing additives, feed enzymes, flavor flavoring compounds, and other technological additives.

Our aim is to lower protein levels in the feed by formulating with synthetic amino acids and also other additive solutions. In this way, we are able to reduce waste and enhance sustainability.

We are looking also at other strategies where we modify the formulas to achieve it. Going back to the example of the lower protein levels with synthetic amino acids, we can use products, like enzyme-based products and other additives, which basically will have to lower crude protein content of feed while maintaining the same level of performance. This is beneficial for the environmental impact, but also for farm profitability. Generally, a lower crude protein content translates to lower feed costs.

While using these type of solutions and reducing protein content of the feed and less protein is consumed leading to lower nitrogen excretion of 5%. On a yearly basis that equates to saving 20 tons of nitrogen from being excreted.

Also, we have performed trials with where we use to the next limiting amino acids in synthetic forms to lower crude protein and we were able to achieve quite big improvements and impact on the environment through this approach.

Don't miss the panel discussion, "How circular economics reduce waste in feed production, enhance animal nutrition," at the Feed Mill of the Future Conference.

Roembke: Please provide an example where the strategic incorporation of a feed additive solution improved feed quality and produced  tangible gains in a resource utilization.

Antipatis: By improving a feed additive solution, we can improve the performance of the animal, improving their health and modify its diet to reduce waste. One great example is Cargill's recent innovation Galleon, an analysis tool that helps customers determine how the gut microbiome of their flock in broilers is related to their nutrition and health and management practices. Galleon helps select the right solutions to support maturing of beneficial microflora or helps reduce or eliminate antibiotic use in markets where regulation or customer requirements are evolving.

We have more than 100 trials around the world, where we analyzed nearly 30,000 samples employing artificial intelligence and advanced statistical modeling techniques to determine the most important bacteria linked to performance, pathogenic disease, pathogenesis and food safety. As a result, we can recommend appropriate additives interventions to our customers in order to enhance gut maturation and achieve performance and health in broilers.

Roembke: Very interesting. Now, given the increasing emphasis on sustainability within the agrifood industry, how does Cargill approach the selection and development of new feed additives to align with these broader environmental goals?

Antipatis: We view sustainability as not only a responsibility, but also an opportunity to create value. It is key to a balanced animal production equation. In this sense, our ambition is to uncover the power of farmers and nutrition by doing more with less to feed the world and protect the planet.

Our priorities are around climate, how to reduce, for example, greenhouse gas emissions, land and water, people and, of course with the animal and we are focusing a lot of that how we reduce waste, increased circularity and enhanced welfare. So in that sense we improve sustainable animal agriculture through feed ingredients, formulation technology, like additives, and we provide advice and solutions to reduce the environmental footprint, enhance welfare, and maximize profitability for customers, who raise or care for animals.

Additives are one part of the puzzle, but we are also focused on precision nutrition: How to optimize feed conversion rates and how to do that through our own Cargill nutrition system. Also sourcing: How do we source more sustainable raw material and suppliers? We use alternative ingredients. An example is our partnership with Innovafeed on insect oil. Regenerative agricultural approach for crops is also important, have good examples there, and also supplier engagement using our Code of Conduct.

Besides sourcing and precision nutrition, we also focus on formulation, connecting digital decision-making tools to feeding strategies. For example, one of our tools is called Panorama, where we're looking at optimizing the nutrient supply and demand to achieve specific goals and improve productivity. We also formulate feeds with the same nutritional value but lower footprint through life-cycle analysis. In Western Europe, we have an LCA, lifecycle analysis, expert helping our customers to do exactly this. Farm management is another important area where we look at digital livestock farming. We look at nutritional interventions to improve welfare aspects and issues like dermatitis and, of course, animal performance. And we have new technologies coming into the market, for example, combination of post-biotics and phytogenics, to achieve that.

Also, farm management support is something which we do and we also have technologies in phytogenics and other substances to reduce contamination of red mites in layers. So we have several technologies and additives to help with improving efficiency and health so we do more for less.

Roembke: Now, I realize some of these goals can be at odds, but what considerations are made to ensure a balance between feed efficiency and animal agriculture's environmental impact?

Antipatis: The rapidly growing and prospering world population comes with the rising demand for food, and as part of a complete and balanced nutritional intake animal-derived protein is required and should be available, accessible and affordable. In future years, as demand grows, cutting out sustainable and, at the same time, economically viable livestock production on a global level seems to be constant challenge for all of us. So appropriate animal feeding plays a key role if we're going to ensure the resilience and welfare of our farm animals, the basis of successful animal production and, consequently, for higher-quality animal-derived products.

In this context, not only are the feedstuffs important, but also the different kinds of feed additives that are used in diets. This is the reason for us to take a closer look at common feed additives and share some thoughts about the necessity of those supplements.

We are bringing welfare and emissions into the equation โ€” not only thinking about it, but doing something about it. In order to help our customers to face the increased complexity in their day-to-day jobs. Besides health, economics and performance, we take into consideration welfare and emissions.

Roembke: Very good. Well, thank you so much for those insights. If you'd like to hear more from Christos on this topic, please join us for the Feed Mill of the Future Conference, where he will be participating in a panel discussion on circularity. If you'd like to register for the event or view the agenda, please visit

Thank you so much, Christos. And thanks to you for tuning in.

Antipatis: Thank you.