Factors to consider when reformulating feeds

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Among many other sectors, the equine feed industry has been hit with high ingredient costs and reduced availability due to a combination of Brexit, Covid-19, increased energy prices and fluctuating weather, to name a few factors.

Many feed business owners may be looking at their formulations to try to reduce costs where possible. Understandably, it is easy to become tunnel-visioned and only look at the cost when doing this exercise which could result in something minor but significant being missed. 

Clare McCafferty, Premier Nutrition equine nutritionist, highlights a few areas to watch out for.

  • Quality first
    Policy changes, world crises and other factors can all affect the availability of products and influence price rises. However, ensuring products are coming from an assured supply chain should be the key consideration before best prices are considered, to avoid potential unwanted issues later down the line.

  • Product claims and labelling
    When reformulating, it’s important to check bag labels and marketing material to ensure product claims are still upheld following any changes. For example, if a claim is made about a particular ingredient being present or included at a high level, this claim should be reviewed to make sure it’s still valid.  Similarly, labels should be reviewed to make sure analytical constituents, composition and additive declarations are still compliant i.e. changing from zinc sulphate to zinc oxide will require the additives section to be updated. Missing a label change could result in having to replace packaging which adds back cost.

  • Aim of product
    Thought needs to be given to the effect formulation changes will have on the purpose of the product. For example, if the original design of the product was to give a top up of B-vitamins for horses on restricted grazing but the removal of these nutrients saves a lot of money, then the aim of the product is no longer the same.

  • Ingredient inclusion costs
    Ingredient costs should be looked at in combination with their inclusion rate before decisions are made to save costs. For example, a large amount of a medium-cost ingredient may have an implication on your overall cost, more so than a small amount of a higher-cost ingredient.

  • Accreditation compliance
    Under Universal Feed Assurance Scheme (UFAS) regulations, substitutions are permitted. However, it is important to consider the rules of any other assurance schemes you are accredited with. For example, a feed business holding a BETA NOPS accreditation would have to make sure that any new material being used as a substitute is risk assessed and compliant with that code of practice too.

  • Export issues of the finished product
    Exporting products is common practice for many feed producers and therefore consideration of how changes to feed formulations can affect commodity codes is key. A change to one or two ingredients can alter the commodity code, which can result in increased customs duties. These changes will also require updated export paperwork, such as health certificates, to confirm the product meets the requirements of the destination country.

If you would like further guidance on reformulating feeds, please contact a member of the Premier Nutrition equine team.