Egg can be a perfect choice of Gen-Z, a food which is good for health and good for planet

Being the Chairman for International Egg Commission, would you please enlighten us about the role that the organization has been playing? Also, please share some insights as how the egg industry has changed in the last decade?
The International Egg Commission (IEC) was established in 1964 and is the only global organisation to represent egg producers, packers and processors. It exists to link people across the globe and is a unique community that shares information and develops relationships across cultures and nationalities, to support business decision making and development.
In order to support information sharing and best practice, the IEC hosts a number of conferences each year which provide the latest research and evidence on the topics that matter most to the global egg industry.
The IEC also represents the global egg industry at an intergovernmental level, working with organisations such as the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that legislation recommendations, such as the Global Hen Housing Standards do not have a detrimental impact on either egg production or consumer access to high-quality eggs.
Over the past ten years, the global egg industry has evolved significantly. Developing regions, such as Asia and South America have witnessed significant increases in egg consumption, driven by population growth, and particularly the growth of the ‘global middle class’, which has resulted in more demand for animal protein.  Between 2008 and 2018 Indian egg consumption grew by 58%, and we are predicting significant continued growth.
What are the challenges being faced by the industry and what kind of trends do you expect that are likely to take it forward?
One of the biggest challenges faced by society is its ability to feed a growing population with healthy and nutritious food. Studies have shown that 190.7 million people were undernourished in India alone between 2014-2016, and I believe that as an industry we can help to address this. Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, with everything you need for life, so there is a huge opportunity to help eradicate undernourishment across the globe, by promoting our fantastic product.
Meanwhile, consumers around the world are becoming increasingly health conscious, while also considering their impact on the planet. As Gen-Z, a new generation of consumers, establishes its footprint on the global food market we are likely to see increased focus on products that are good for you, and good for the planet.
I believe that eggs are in a perfect position to capitalise on this movement, but as an industry we must grasp this opportunity and make it work for us. We need to ensure that consumers are aware that eggs are nutritionally dense, but that eggs also deliver on an environmental sustainability front. There is a bright future for egg producers, providing we work hard to promote our incredible product.
Avian Influenza (AI) remains a challenge that the entire egg industry is contending with. As an industry we continue to develop our knowledge, solutions and ideas to combat the issue of AI. Good bio-security remains an essential part of preventative health measures and the IEC has developed a number of free practical biosecurity tools, in partnership with our Avian Influenza Global Expert Group to support producers to implement the latest advice. These are available to download from the IEC website.
“Srinivasa Farms” had a long association with “Venkateshwara Hatcheries”, for almost five decades. How is the company doing since then, being on its own?
We have grown at a CAGR of 25% in last five years. We will be growing three times in next 4-5 years with the expansion of the business to pan India. We have already started our hatchery operations in North India for both layers and broilers.
In your brief association with Hy-line international – which is the world leaders in chicken layer genetics, the market share has increased from 2% to 12%. What kind of future scope do you see in the market?
We have supplied more than 3.0 Crores Hy-Line W80 Chicks in India. Farmers are happy with Hy-Line W80 Chicks quality and Performances. Most of the farmers have taken repeat batches based on the performance of earlier batches. On an average, farmers are saving about 5-8 gm per day feed compared to other breeds.
With the layer industry growing at 6-8%, we would like to grab the opportunity and capture the market and acquire atleast 30% of the market in the next couple of years and grow exponentially.
“Srinivasa Farms” has invested in String Bio, would you please share more about the start-up? Also, what is expected from such investments in start-ups?
String Bio is a startup who is into technology that converts methane into high quality protein. It is a disruptive technology that uses a biological reaction without any genetic modification. This protein can be used in poultry feed and decrease the dependency on soya for the protein requirements. This would also help in decreasing the industry dependency on the fluctuating prices of commodities markets and protect it from the adverse effects of feed pricing.
Also, Poultry sector is looking at alternatives for protein sources in the feed to make it more stable. Feed contributes to about 60-80% of the total production cost in poultry. Industry is evaluating the alternatives like algae, duckweed, grain by-products like Brewer’s dried grains, gluten feed and meal and many other alternatives are being looked at.
In this situation, if someone comes up with a technology to also has huge impact on environment, that is a sustainable solution. Methane is considered as one of the worst green house gases emitted. Though the volumes are less compared to that of CO2, methane has multiple times higher effect on the climate change.
Encouraging such startups serves both purposes to address the environmental issues and help industry to reduce the dependency on market prices thus making the business and industry more sustainable.
Sustainability is the buzz term in global livestock production, how can we make Layer and Broiler industry more sustainable?
The global egg industry has made tremendous sustainability gains over the past 50 years, and eggs are already one of the most sustainable forms of high-quality protein available, with research showing that eggs have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per 1,000 calories of all animal proteins.
In 2018 the industry launched its Global Initiative for Sustainable Eggs, which supports a range of ambitious sustainability objectives and outlined six areas of priority for the egg industry to continue to deliver positive outcomes:

a. Working to improve nutrition in developing and developed countries:

The IEC and its members support the International Egg Foundation and its charitable work to tackle food poverty in developing regions. In addition, the International Egg Nutrition Centre is improving the world’s knowledge and understanding of egg nutrition, by sharing the latest research and scientific understanding

b. Working to prevent diseases of animals becoming diseases of humankind:

We recognise that the health of humans, animals and the planet are inextricably linked which is why the IEC’s Avian Influenza Global Expert Group is so important. We continue to develop our knowledge, solutions and ideas to combat the issue of Avian Influenza and have developed a number of free practical biosecurity tools to support producers to implement the latest advice.

c. Working to promote responsible use of antimicrobials:

Similarly, the industry has taken significant steps to reduce the use of antimicrobials to ensure that we support the UN goal of Good Health and Well being.

d. Working to improve social sustainability:

The egg industry is committed to respecting and promoting human rights and to providing decent working conditions. Under the Consumer Goods Forums ‘Business Actions Against Forced Labour’ the egg industry became the first agricultural commodity to commit to eradicating forced labour in the value chain

e. Working to improve the welfare of our laying hens:

Building trust and transparency in our food supply chain is essential. The IEC is supporting the OIE in establishing a framework of Global Standards of Laying Hens which is inclusive to all systems and supports the improvement of hen welfare.

f. Working to enhance environmental sustainability:

The egg industry is already one of the most environmentally friendly forms of agricultural production as hens convert feed into protein very efficiently and the industry does not require a large land base to accomplish this. The egg industry strives to continue to reduce the resources it uses, while also sourcing its feed from sustainable suppliers, which is why it has committed to souring sustainable soy.

Although we have already made significant positive impact gains in terms of on improving our sustainability, as an industry we are always working to improve, and the IEC and its members have committed to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Every country will have different areas of focus when it comes to improving their sustainability, but we are committed to supporting this through providing our members with the latest insight – whether that be about achieving zero waste on farm, improving the health of our hens or considering innovative technologies that will change our layer diets, all of which will ultimately improve the productivity of our farms.

EU imposed cage ban in 2012 while neglecting the possible impact on the health of both egg-laying hens and meat birds, with increased risk of food borne pathogens being around. Indian poultry industry is facing the same challenge today, what is you take on the situation?
Building trust and transparency in our food supply chain is essential. We believe that all production systems have their advantages, and that each region should have the ability to choose the systems that work best for their production environment. This is evident in the IEC’s role in supporting the OIE in establishing a framework of Global Standards of Laying Hens which is inclusive and fair to all systems and supports the improvement of hen welfare. Also, whatever is done should be backed by science and not just emotions. Also, every system should also be measured on resource and environmental sustainability.
Being the second-generation of the family to take up responsibility of the group, what challenges have you faced in taking your company forward? What would be your suggestions of the younger generation, who are joining the Poultry business now?
I am on the path of transitioning from a founders/family run company to professional/metrics-based organisation. Lesson has been that, when something fails, it is to fall back on taking charge, instead what we need to do is trust the team even more and help them resolve the issue in ways that makes us even better. Reliance on one person in long term, is unworkable and possibly dangerous. Team, is the most important element of the company, its they who run the business, grow the business, so the company belongs to the team and the future is owned by them. The leadership is one of the team. Our team is already highly empowered and active, and it is my intent to take it even further.
Being Vice-president of All India Breeders’ Association, what kind of expectations do you have from the next budget?
Though the budget announced on February 01, 2020 has 16-point detailed plan for agriculture sector, there was no mention of livestock in the entire agenda. It is moot now.