Food costs less than feed

High corn prices, double in one year, are already pressuring the animal feed sector to search for lower cost ingredients. Here are two ‘early innovations’.

1.) Trail Mix hog feed
Growing demand for corn-based ethanol has pushed up the price of corn, Mr. Smith’s main feed, to near-record levels. Searching for alternatives, Alfred Smith’s hogs eat trail mix…

“…they usually shun the Brazil nuts.

“Pigs can be picky eaters,” Mr. Smith says, scooping a handful of banana chips, yogurt-covered raisins, dried papaya and cashews from one of the 12 one-ton boxes in his shed.

Generally, he says, “they like the sweet stuff.” [WSJ subscription]

2.) Party Mix cattle feed
Dwight Hess, a cattle feedlot operator in Marietta, Pa., is located in the heart of snack country, near Hershey and Herr Foods Inc., a maker of potato chips, pretzels and snack mixes.

His cattle ration consists of about 17% “candy meal,” a blend of chocolate bars and large chunks of chocolate; 3% of what he calls “party mix,” a blend of popcorn, pretzels, potato chips and cheese curls; 8% corn gluten; and the remainder corn and barley he grows.

He says these byproducts save him about 10% on feed costs. Still, it costs him about 65 cents to put a pound on a steer, up from 42 cents last year. [serious eats]

Curious little pigCurious new ingredients?
Candy and condiments in animal feed isn’t necessarily alarming.

Compounders of feed formula often use a variety of ingredients from excess farm production. Factory food processor and restaurant wastes have also been integrated for years and years.

We should be watchful.
Desparate to reduce costs, some players may try increasingly unusual approaches in our food system where oversight is very often (ideologically) under-funded and under-regulated.

A national policy to make a new fuel market came quickly, without social, educational or research adjustment. As food crops and animal feed are diverted to producing fuel, distortion in our food supply chain is rapid.

Did we think about the affects of fuel policy changes before heralding ethanol as another global security announcement?