The last 20 years has brought unprecedented developments to Chinese agriculture, but it has also brought challenges that shook the whole food chain in recent years leading to an undermining of consumer confidence. Companies that dare to make changes while sticking to their core survived and those utilizing the latest technologies will have a bright future in the world’s largest swine, aqua and feed producing country.

Alltech Founder and President Dr. Pearse Lyons shared his vision with Chinese industry professionals at the Alltech China 20 Year Celebratory Summit held in Beijing. The event was organized both to celebrate the global animal nutrition company’s twenty years of successful presence in the Far East and to explore where the Chinese feed and food industries are heading.

“China must be able to feed itself,” said Lyons, while addressing more than 700 attendees at the Summit.

The Middle Kingdom has 7% of the world’s arable land and 20% of the world’s population. Yet, the country is depending heavily on grain or milk imports. Although more than 50% of the world’s pig production takes place in China, the country is a net importer of pork meat. The agriculture sector in China has gone through tremendous changes, but previous food safety scandals have clearly shown the areas where significant developments must be made.

Lyons believes that the last 20 years were a time of consolidation moving from backyard farming to large, modern integrations. The next two decades will focus on how companies will increase their production efficiency in a sustainable way without damaging the environment and maintaining their profitability.

China is currently experiencing a growing demand for dairy products and its ever conscious consumers are increasingly concerned about food safety. According to Alltech North China General Manager, Gordon Gao, who addressed the dairy session of the Alltech China 20 Year Celebratory Summit, China urgently needs to increase milk production efficiency, maintain profitability and focus on food safety.

“Chinese dairy farmers need to find sustainable ways to maintain profitability by lowering costs and increasing the level of production and Alltech can provide solutions for these issues that Chinese dairy farmers face,” Gao said.

Chinese companies have the capability to quickly adapt technologies and learn from other markets. In 2013, China contributed 30% (80 million tons) of the total 267 million tons of global swine feed produced. China is set to remain the largest pork meat producer and consumer in the world and the Chinese perspective on pig production has global implications.

Lyons spoke about the very recent Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) cases in the US and Canada. After another recent outbreak of the virus, many industry members are now reassessing their feed ingredient sources and tightening the reins on the traceability of their overall management and nutrition programs.

“While it is unrealistic to believe that a simple nutritional change will result in the elimination of the virus from a herd of pigs,” Lyons said. “Alltech’s distinct set of technologies can help in maintaining healthy pig populations, which is the first step in dealing with a herd crisis.”

It will also soon be critical that Chinese companies use alternative raw material sources. Lyons predicts that systems such as Solid State Fermentation (SSF) will soon allow the production of customised enzyme cocktails for improving digestion, animal performance and health. Algae has already began to play an increasing role in animal production as a source of sustainable vegetable protein or oils (DHA).

As part of Alltech’s China Now strategy Dr. Mark Lyons, Vice President corporate affairs commented that “Alltech has committed to investing $2.5 million by 2016 in research alliance programs with leading Chinese universities and our partnership with Ocean University of China in Qingdao will contribute to a sustainable future for the Chinese aquaculture industry.”

“Alltech today is a $ 1 billion company. We were one of the very first companies who came to China twenty years ago. China has become one of the top three key markets for Alltech over the years and will be a strong contributor to our global goal of $4 billion in sales in the near future. We have never been as excited as we are today about the opportunities in China and we look forward to closely supporting the industry in the next 20 years as well,” Lyons concluded.

For video highlights of the summit please click here.