Enormous potential of Indian feed industry

Mr Raghavan Sampathkumar is an agribusiness professional with 13+ years of experience working in Corporate and industry association in different sub-sectors of Food, Agriculture and Animal industries across Asia Pacific, has joined The Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers Association (CLFMA) as their Executive Director.
Well, as you have been serving the Asian commodity market for last 5 years, we would like to know your understanding of the Indian feed commodity market vis-a-vis Asian feed ingredient market?
India’s feed industry is reliant upon raw materials and ingredients mostly produced domestically, while several Asian countries are dependent on imports. Though maize and soybean form the biggest chunk of raw materials, India’s rich crop diversity is indeed very unique and proves valuable in feed formulations. However, more research is needed towards making these more commercially viable so that the industry has a wider array of raw materials to choose from.
Could you share some statistics that may illustrate S&D of feed business in the country?
India produced about 31 million tonnes (Source: Alltech feed survey 2017). Around three-fourth of it is consumed by the poultry sector (broiler and layer) and the cattle (dairy) and aqua segments form the rest. But if the feed demand is to be worked out based on the recommended international standards, India’s dairy sector has enormous potential of over 60 million tonnes. Similarly, Aqua segment is one of the fast growing segments and its demand could rise exponentially from the current level of around 1 million tonnes.
In your view, what are the main problems the Indian livestock sector is facing and what are your suggestions?
We are one of the most efficient producers of meat and egg globally and yet we still have many challenges to overcome. India’s poultry industry is one of the most efficient in terms of FCR. Similarly, India is one of the prominent exporters of meat particularly bovine meat and egg globally. We have our stronghold in certain markets including Middle East. It is true that there are challenges but it is not appropriate to generalise the issues that are unique to each segment. Obviously, in dairy sector, more needs to be done in terms of improving the genetic potential of animals and encouraging use of high quality, nutritious feed. However, some suggestions such as boosting investments in cold storage, logistics and processing of meat and milk; building consumer awareness about health and nutrition aspects towards animal protein; and supportive tax frameworks are needed to propel the livestock industry’s growth further.
What are the different ways to address the growing protein requirement of Indian Animal feed industry?
This question must be a subset of how the country’s overall protein demand is going to be met and how the animal protein sector can play an enhanced role. Having worked in the plant protein sector also, I would say there is no simple answer to it but there are some areas that can be addressed on priority. Firstly, productivity of crops such as pulses needs to be improved, which will make them more affordable. Second, the possibility of using more plant proteins for animal protein production must be explored and more research is needed on this. Coming to the animal feed side, already the feed industry is doing all it can to maximise protein efficiency from diverse feed raw materials and research efforts are going on to make better use of the existing raw materials and also new ones. However, globally, other alternatives such as insect proteins have already been commercially available. It is only a matter of time before we see them in India.
Due to GST impact, India’s GDP grew 5.7 percent on a year-on-year basis during the April-June period (Q1). Can you please share its impact over Indian feed industry? What policy changes do you recommend for its growth?
Firstly, CLFMA of India thanks the Government for exempting animal feed under the GST regime acknowledging its enormous contribution towards the nation’s food and nutritional security. In general, GST has simplified the taxation framework but still there are some sector-specific issues related to feed raw materials and ingredients, on which we are working closely with the authorities concerned. The industry always supports scientifically-sound and unbiased policy and regulatory frameworks and is committed to work with the stakeholders. One of the immediate priorities would be to have policies to maximize investments in improving processing, logistical and distribution infrastructure for agricultural products.
Please give your own assessment with regard to the future of Indian Feed Industry.
India’s food demand is growing enormously and our median age is about 30. With such a large chunk of youth, our potential is huge in every sector. Particularly, India’s growing middle class and urbanization is driving protein demand and the country’s animal feed sector is also catching up fast to cater to the increased demand for feed. I am personally quite optimistic about the industry’s CAGR of around 8% in the medium and long run when I look at all the macroeconomic and demographic indicators.
What kind of changes one may expect from your new role assigned to you by CLFMA of India?
We just turned 50 years and if we look back there are some great milestones achieved and yet there are always areas to improve. We are looking to strengthen CLFMA’s internal capabilities and our abilities to represent our members more effectively. Also, we will play more active role in leading agenda for the growth of India’s animal protein sector in general and will be further enhancing our engagement with all stakeholders including in the government, academia and other related industries henceforth.