Four years after purchasing global animal nutrition business Provimi, U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill can now boast a bustling livestock business.
The acquisition, which took place in August 2011, really propelled the grain trader’s livestock feed and research into what Charles Shininger, managing director of Cargill’s premix and nutrition business in North America, calls a “global leader”.
“There was a lot of knowledge brought together in that collaboration,” Shininger told AgFunderNews.
Shininger is particularly referring to the Cargill Nutrition System (CNS), its proprietary nutrient formulating platform, which launched at the end of 2014. The platform combines real-time global nutrient analysis of feed ingredients with the latest research into nutrient application and ingredient sourcing, to provide customers with information about feed application.
“Much of what we do in the U.S. is actual feed formation for customers,” he said. “Our overall strategy for nutritional knowledge, programming and recommendations can be used on an individual customer basis, with their ingredients, based on our analysis, their local feed stock and whatever were providing.”
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The fee on providing this information is often built into the cost of whatever we’re providing customers from our own dietary products.
The system also drives product development at Cargill.
While farmers can access a lot of nutrient information — such as through Nutrition Research Reviews and — and other custom-made animal nutrition and feed, there are few, if any other technologies connecting the information with animal requirements and other needs through software.
In a linked, but quite different initiative, Cargill has invested alongside one of its livestock clients to help educate the public on sustainability and innovation in livestock farming. The agribusiness donated $750,000 to Farm Oak Farms, one of the biggest dairies in the country, which follows a variety of sustainable farming practices, namely around turning waste into energy to power the farm and provide fuel for transport of its dairy products.
The donation was committed to an educational center at the farm offering the public — particularly children — adventure days to experience and learn about dairy and pig farming activities from birthing and milking to interactive exhibits and a ride on the pig bus!
“The basic situation is the U.S. is that not many people are involved in production agriculture anymore, less than 1 percent of the population, so people don’t understand how food is produced at the farm level. A big part of this education effort is to give people exposure to farming and the modern systems the industry now employs.”
The centre is targeting 500,000 people to go through the adventure center’s doors each year including 50,000 youth or student tours, according to Shininger.
So what future plans does Cargill have for innovation in the livestock sector?
‘”Our longer term strategy as we invest over the next 5-10 years will be focused on a couple of primary areas around additives that can go into feeds,” said Shininger. “This may include microbial enzymes and those types of tech that can improve the performance and efficiency of feed. In some cases we are developing technologies based on our own knowledge, and in others we are partnering with others to help them with further development and commercialization.”
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