BIOMIN breaks ground on new ERBER Group production site in Haag am Hausruck, Austria

Getzersdorf/Lower Austria, September 20, 2018 – BIOMIN, an affiliated company of ERBER Group that develops sustainable, antibiotic-free and top-quality animal nutrition products for healthy and profitable animal production, recently broke ground on a new production site.

Located in the state of Upper Austria, the facility is scheduled to begin operating in December 2019 and marks the firm’s further expansion and growth.

“We have decided to invest in Austria in a sustainable and forward-looking way. This is proof that ERBER Group’s significant international growth is also manifest in Austria. The new BIOMIN production site is only one of several big steps in the years to come,” said Jan Vanbrabant, PhD, ERBER Group CEO at the groundbreaking ceremony for the production site in Haag am Hausruck, Upper Austria.

The new production site will produce natural, antibiotic-free mineral feed and premixes, which help to increase the performance of swine, poultry, and dairy and beef cattle in an economic way. The construction phase will take 12 months and production at the new site will be fully operational from December 2019.

Markus Edlinger, MBA, Managing Director BIOMIN added, “We are very happy that construction will start soon. The new site will only be 20 minutes by car from the existing production facility. We are building one of the world’s most modern mineral feed production sites here in Upper Austria, and it will be the basis of ERBER Group’s strategy for the future.”

Member of the Austrian National Parliament, Manfred Hofinger, who came to the groundbreaking ceremony on behalf of Upper Austrian Governor Thomas Stelzer, and Konrad Binder, Mayor of the Upper Austrian municipality of Haag am Hausruck attended the ceremony.

They expressed their pleasure about the start of the construction, “We are proud that an international group of companies like ERBER and its affiliate BIOMIN are investing a euro amount in the double-digit millions in a site here in Haag am Hausruck. This permanently safeguards jobs and strengthens added value for the entire region on a long-term basis.


Hopes for Nigerian soybeans

I had this article through from Shem in Nigeria today:




Nigeria has continued to battle a ballooning import bill for soybean and soybean products despite the West African country being one of the top three producers of the crop in Africa alongside South Africa and Zambia.


The Nigerian government, in partnership with the private sector, is on the campaign trail to expand the acreage under soybean production and also promoting the growth of both the poultry and fisheries industries, the two main drivers of the country’s soybean market.


Through the State-sponsored Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme (ATASP),  which targets sustainable increasing of incomes for smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs in the production, processing, storage and marketing of the selected commodity value chains including soybean, Nigeria has sought to create a domestic market for soybean in both raw and processed form and hence trigger increased production.


Nigeria’s domestic soybean production is estimated at 500,000 metric tons despite an existing huge potential to produce more. Increased production has been constrained by several stiffing factors that the Nigerian government, in partnership with the private sector, is attempting to address through ATASP that was launched in February 2015 and runs to February 2019.


The country’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture identifies lack of credit for farmers, inadequate investment in soybean processing, limited use of farm inputs, haphazard extension services, archaic land tenure systems that locks out many from accessing land as a factor of production, as some of the challenges constraining the growth of Nigeria’s soybean industry.


With an average soybean farm sizes of 1.5ha, Nigeria’s annual average production is around 680,000 tons nearly 25% if the country’s national demand of of 2.7 million tons. The deficit is met through imports from major global producers such as Argentina and USA. An estimated 120,000 metric tons of soybean including raw soybeans flour was imported during the 2015/2016 season according to government records. The Nigerian buyers paid an average 18% and 19% more for the imports compared to prices in USA and Argentina respectively.

In an effort to reduce the high soybean importation bill, Nigeria has outlined measures that will promote expansion of the animal production sector with more emphasis on poultry and fisheries so as to catalyze growth of domestic production of the crop that is largely grown in the middle belt particularly Benue State and also Adamawa, Kwara, Katsina, Taraba, Kano and Kaduna.


For example, ATASP targets increasing production of poultry and fisheries by 51% and 20% respectively. As Africa’s largest egg producer and with the fame of having the second largest chicken population after South Africa, Nigeria has been working on providing more than 260,000 Grant Parent Stock and 40 million parent stock for commercial layer flock over the last four years according to the ATASP.


And for the larger Nigerian animal production segment, growth remains constrained hence the low appetite for products such as animal feeds with a high soybean ingredient in their formulation. Various reports have shown how dominance of low yielding animal breeds, inadequate access to feeds and grazing, conflicts between crop farmers and pastoralists, low animal products processing capacity and deficiency in value addition have failed to inspire growth in demand for soybean products.


And in what appears to be a confirmation of the growing production deficit in the soybean industry, the ATASP says the government “will address shortage of soybean meal/cake to commercial feed mills by introducing unconventional protein source ingredients that have been developed by Raw Materials Research and Development Council such as vegetable carried blood meal, rumen content blood and also ensuring greater, availability of brewers’ dried gran from the breweries.” The country’s poultry market is valued at $600 million according to the Ministry of Agriculture.


ATASP also promises to combine both public and private partnerships to ensure “increased local production of soybean and alternative protein sources for poultry feed.”


As part of the ATASP, the Nigerian government hopes to have in place a fish farm certification process to ensure quality standards across the industry’s value chain in addition to increasing aquaculture production to more than one million metric tons in the short term and reducing the importation of such products and also inputs.


Growth of Nigeria’s fishing industry is expected to be a key driver in the increasing demand for soybean production in the country. Under the ATASP, Nigeria hopes to scale up annual fish seed production to 1.25 billion in addition to producing 400,000 metric tons of fish feed every year.


The Fisheries Society of Nigeria says for the country to grow its fisheries industry effectively, and hence create demand for associated markets such as soybean, the government needs to set up a Fisheries Commission at the national level with affiliates at the State and local government levels in addition to providing an updated and effective national regulatory and legislative framework for fisheries and aquaculture.


The Society says large, medium and small fish industry entrepreneurs should also be supported with financing through the setting up of a special fund for their benefit according to the Society.


Currently, Nigeria’s annual fish demand stands at 2.66 million metric tons according to government statistics but the country’s production stands at less than 0.7 million metric tons. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates Nigeria’s fish imports at 60% of the country’s total consumption.


The constrains in soybean production cuts across all Nigerian agricultural sector, which FAO says includes “reliance on rain-fed agriculture, smallholder land holding, poor planting material, low application of fertilizer and weak agricultural extension systems.”


Nigeria’s private sector is expected to play a key role in growing the soybean market across the industry’s value chain with companies such as Olam, the country’s largest buyer of domestic soybean and Nestle expected to lead in creating capacity both to produce and consume the commodity.


For example, Olam says on its website part of its Nigerian investment and capacity building is on “soybean processing, including on-going work with local companies to improve efficiencies and capacity utilisation.”


“We also want to enhance smallholder livelihoods, and are partnering with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan to promote high-quality seeds for farmers across Nigeria that are tailored to the country’s climactic conditions,” the company says.


The company has recently established a 220ha trial seed farm in Kaduna, with a strategy to increase the country’s soybean production from 500,000 metric tons to 2 million metric tons in five to seven years so as “not only to make Nigeria self-sufficient on plant proteins, but a net soybean exporter.”


To endear the Nigerian soybean export crop to international buyers, Olam says both the public and private sector have to address the “negative quality perceptions that Nigerian beans suffer.”


Olam lists some of the quality challenges Nigeria’s soybean crop faces in the global market as “aflatoxin content, high presence of foreign matter, low oil content and excessively dried.”


“While Olam was able to convince global buyers to overlook some of these parameters, these remain major issue that need to be resolved to make Nigeria a credible exporter of soybeans,” the company says in one of its fact sheets on the Nigerian operations.


Meanwhile, Nestle Nigeria, an affiliate of Swiss transnational food and drink company  Nestle, has for the last few years partnered with University of Agriculture Abeokuta to sensitize Nigeruan soybean producers on good production practices and the economic benefits of the crop as part of the company’s strategy to meet its supply needs in the West African country.


The partnership, which targets suitable soybean growing areas of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Oyo to the south west, has come up with two major varieties of TGX1019-2EB and TGX 1448-IE which Nestle says have proven “promising” and passed parameters such as “high yield,disease resistance and seed quality.”




Space – the final frontier

I am just back from a wonderful week in Rennes attending the Space 2018 conference. It was a whirlwind week visiting many great companies and enjoying the hospitality of the Space team at Rennes.

Firstly let me say how well organised the whole show was. The facilities for journalists were second to none and a centrally placed press facility made visiting the stalls much easier. There were regular updates from the media team and – this being France – a sumptuous four course lunch every day. I didn’t have got but you could have had wine and that other Brittany favourite – Cidre.

The very first day I spent in Rennes was attending a one day short course on Aquafeed extrusion. The course had been organised by Perendale Publishers and sponsored by firms including CPM, Kevin, Andritz, Clextral, Perten, Dinnissen and Corporate Project Services.

We had some highly regarded speakers at the conference in eluding Dr Mian Riaz from Texas – he is one of the world’s leading authorities in extrusion and Tim Hartter of Corporate Project Services (a division of Wenger). We also heard from Arthur vom Home of CPM Europe, Nicola Tallarico of Kemin Europe, Thomas Ellegaard Mohr of Andritz Feed and Biofuel. Alain Brisset of Clextral and Per Liden of Perten Instruments also contributed.

It was a fascinating day and one which the delegates took a lot from. There was a Nigerian fish farmer who spoke about farm fishing Tilapia and Catfish. He spoke of the dangers he has to face being a fish farmer. You don’t expect a fish farmer to lose all his stock in one go as bandits steal all his fish. It is good to know my company Perendale supports a charity called Aquaculture Without Frontiers which helps fish farmers around the world.

Away from the extrusion conference I was impressed with the kit on display from companies such as Mrillion, Tout Pour Le Grain and an old family firm from Italy called La Meccanica who produced some spectacularly stylish machines for milling and animal feed production.

Some of the big names in  milling were also there – Buhler and Andritz – as well as die manufacturer Ferotec and animal feed manufacturers Mixscience. Biomin and Phileo as well as Aliphos and ABVista were all at Space – a great place to do business in Europe.  The irrepressible Mattieu Boulez of L’Allemand and Phosfeed were all represented.

The swanky Innov Space 2018 awards evening was a highlight with innovations from across the agricultural sector being celebrated.

Space’s exhibition manager Anne Marie Quemener was always on hand to provide expert analysis of the show and to make sure everything was running smoothly.

I really enjoyed Space and cannot wait until next year.



Looking forward to visiting Space 2018, Rennes

Next week I will be embarking on my first major conference for Perendale Publishers – Space 2018

It features over 1,440 exhibitors from across the globe and I am really looking forward to getting stuck in and finding out more about this wonderful industry called milling. The destination is Rennes in France which sounds quite romantic although I am sure it will be more technical than romantic.

I have contacted the organisers to get my press accreditation and have booked in to a welcome meal for all international journalist. The animal competitions appear to be quite exciting with over 700 animals competing in a variety of areas as they vie for top spot.

On Tuesday for the first time at SPACE, the Parthenais breed will organise its national competition at the Expo. Only the 80 best animals in the breed will be competing.

Five other beef breeds will enter the inter-regional competition in the afternoon.

The Roussin sheep breed will also be in the spotlight with its national competition organised from 2pm. I love watching the animal classes at these shows – it reminds me of my time covering agricultural shows for the Western Daily Press and climbing into the parade ring to get a good shot of the Best in Show bull.

More than the animals I want to learn more about animal feed and all the associated industries. How feed can make such a difference to the health of the animal. I am hoping to see extruding machines and learning all about extrusion.

As well of course sampling some fine French cuisine while there.

Ergot – the real reason behind Halloween

As Halloween approaches and all things and witches take to the skies could the root of this myth be found in Rye bread? In Europe, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, bread was usually made with rye grain, which, under the right conditions can become a host for ergot, a fungus that grows on rye in damp weather. When consumed in high doses, ergot can be deadly but in smaller doses, it acts as a potent hallucinogen.

Nowadays ergot is routinely removed from grain during the milling process and the standards of keeping rye grain have improved immeasurably so that contamination through water happens less and less.

The most common form of ergot is Claviceps pupurea – the rye ergot fungus – which grows on rye and related plant producing alkaloids which can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its fruiting structure (called ergot sclerotium).

Records throughout history from the 14thto the 17thcentury mention an affliction with “dancing mania” where groups of people would dance through the streets often speaking gibberish and foaming from the mouth until they collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Often those afflicted with this mania would later describe the apparently wild and wonderful visions that accompanied it.

In time resourceful types figured out how to use ergot for hallucinatory, see-the-pretty-colours purposes. One of the downsides to taking ergot orally is the nausea and vomiting and so the resourceful types figured out the best way to consume ergot was through the skin. Makeshift pharmacists developed salves which could be rubbed into the sweat glands in armpits and the mucus membranes of the genitals.

They would put the salve onto broomstick handles which is perhaps where the famous witches broomstick came from.

However the chances of getting ergot poisoning from rye bread are almost impossible now.

Drought crimps wheat and canola output in Canada

Wheat and canola output is expected to be crimped by a drought which singed parts of Canada’s prairie, Bloomberg reports.

Statistics Canada said in a report on Friday wheat output this year will decline 3.3 per cent to 29 million metric tons from 2017 as average yields drop more than 11 per cent. That is the smallest crop in three years.

The average estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey was 30.4 million. Canola production will tumble 10 per cent to 19.2 million tons (analysts expected 20.7 million), the lowest since 2015.

The government said parts of Canada suffered from lower-than-average precipitation and high temperatures, eroding yields.

Since July, wheat yields in some parts of the prairies, including Manitoba, have been better than expected and may be revised upward in the final report later this year, said Brian Voth, president of Intelli Farm Inc.

The sentiment still may remain bullish amid adverse weather in Europe and the Black Sea region, he said                                                              .

“We are taking a little bit of caution with some of these numbers because of the time when the estimates were done,” Voth said. “When these estimates were done back in July, there was a lot of pessimism about what yields might actually be.”

An August heat wave scorched parts of the southern Prairies hit by drought earlier in the season. Parts of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan got less than 60 per cent of average rain for a large part of the growing season, government data showed.

The crop estimates are “a shock to the trade,” Jerry Klassen, a manager of Canadian operations and trading at Gap SA Grains & Produits in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said. “This is a very bullish report for Canadian grains.”

The industry will be “seriously monitoring yields” as the harvest progresses, Klassen said. While the government estimates are based on a survey of farmers in July and may be revised upward, forecasts were so far below expectations that prices for spring wheat, durum and canola probably will rise, he said.

Spring-wheat futures in Minneapolis may rise as high as $7 a bushel, and canola futures might gain as much as $40 ($26.35) a ton in the coming months amid tighter supplies, Klassen said.

On the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, futures for December delivery rose 1.6 per cent to $5.9325 after reaching $6.02, the contract’s highest since Aug. 23. Canola futures climbed 0.4 per cent to C$496.80 on ICE Futures U.S. after reaching C$499.50, the highest since Aug. 23.

Carr’s Mill visit

Visiting Carr’s Flour Mill in Maldon gave me a real insight into the life of a working mill. The impressive mill was founded in 1836 by Jonathan Dodgson Carr who built it on the principles of quality, innovation and understanding the needs of customers. The mill still retains those core values and has been completely transformed into a truly 21stcentury operation.

The mill was built in 1896 for Samuel Garrett. It later belonged to William Green and Sons, then Green Bros, and subsequently Carr’s. Along with the other Carr’s mills it was sold to Whitworth’s in 2016.

Together with Carr’s other mills at Silloth and Kirkcaldy it processes 300,000 tonnes of wheat a year. Inside the mill, state of the art modern milling equipment takes centre stage – from the enormous sifters to the Buhler roller milling machines. It tests protein levels and sifts out any foreign matter in the wheat including metal and mycotoxins.

Carr’s opened up its mills to a group of around 30 people for a special open day. The group included farmers from the Dengie region of Essex and bakers from across the UK. Wilfrid Dorrington, of Dorringtons Bakery in Sawbridgeworth along with Chris Hughes, Dorringtons general manager and Sam Robinson of the Good Things Brewing Co joined the group.

The Good Things Brewing Co has discovered a way of dehydrating its spent grain for the baking industry. They produce so called super flour which is gaining traction in the wheat market for its quality. It is a truly ethical company reusing and recycling whatever it can in the process of making top quality artisan beer.

Sam Robinson was at Carr’s to find out what he could about the milling process. He was fascinated to learn about how Carr’s deals with its waste products.

It was quite an eclectic group of people – many had been buying flour from Carr’s for many years. We toured the distribution function of the mill – watching the massive lorries load up with either bulk flour or bags of flour – from wholemeal to special artisan flour for the smaller bakeries.

The amount of flour they produce is simply amazing as well as animal feed which is sifted out from the wheat at an early stage of the milling process. The outer layer of the wheat is removed ready for moulding into animal pellets.

The bran husks are all removed and separated from the endosperm before going on to be sifted in huge sifting machines which rumble along 24 hours a day seven days a week.

The mill never stops and it is down to the logistics team to always be on hand to pick up either a bulk load of flour or pallets of ready packeted flour. Huge pallets of the packeted flour sit waiting to be transported to the waiting bakeries in a fleet of lorries.

Before being shipped out to the customers the wheat is tested again and again to ensure its quality is top notch. Each load of wheat is tested before it enters the milling process with sophisticated machines which test the protein levels of each load to ensure it is correct for flour. They receive wheat from across the globe at Carr’s. As well as wheat from the Dengie farming community in Essex, it collects wheat from Canada and France and Germany to mill.

A recent addition to the milling operations at Carr’s is chapati flour. The team at Carr’s sourced original milling equipment from India. It had to be cleaned up prior to use in the mill and now turns out top quality chapati flour.

Canadian flour is milled, providing a strong flour for baking which is needed in some mixes of flour. They don’t add any enzymes during the milling process to ensure the flour they produce is clean and natural.

Carr’s have to deal with the constantly moving wheat markets and have a special wheat buyer Struan Cessford who says this year has been relatively good in the UK. The dry weather has created a hard grain which is lower in protein levels and needs more conditioning – soaking in water.

“We source only the best wheat from home and abroad, and we have invested heavily in the latest milling technology.,” says the company’s website.

“Our flours are created with attention to detail, supplying everyone from home and independent bakers to retail multiples and major food retailers.

“And in an often volatile wheat market, our people work closely with our customers to minimise the impact of unexpected price spikes.”

Knowing customer needs to is integral to the philosophy at Carr’s. They know the market and adapt to whatever the market needs.

It is this attention to detail which singles out Carr’s as a top quality mill and it is the attention to its staff which makes it a special place to work.



Carr’s Mill – a family feel

Walking into Carr’s Mill in Station Road, Maldon, I didn’t know quite what to expect – a pretty big industrial set up with lots of machinery in a large mill which had been there since 1896.

What I didn’t expect was the sheer number of workers who had been there for years and years. From the maintenance man who had come to do a small paint job 12 years and simply stayed ago to the millers who have been there for 30 years. Carr’s is obviously doing something right.

The sense of pride in the company and what it stands for is clear. We were joined by a number of farmers from the Dengie peninsular and bakers from across the UK who use Carr’s products. There were family run bakers like Dorringtons who have been baking from their Sawbridgeworth bakery since 1909, to new firms like the Good Things Brewing Co. who were there to see what they could learn for their burgeoning grain to flour business.

This is key to the success of Carr’s – a unique bond between flour mill and bakery which thrives on excellent product and because Carr’s knows what the customer wants and needs.

Touring the factory floor was pretty loud and very technical – I struggled to hear the tour guide – Matthew Chick but got a good grasp of the milling process. The Buhler machines and sifters were going at full tilt and the loading off of grain and then back in as flour was incredible. What struck me was the lack of mess – you would have expected the entire mill floor to be caked in flour but it was spotless and the air wasn’t filled with flour.

Once the mill tour was over we were transported to a waiting Thames Barge called the Hydrogen for a buffet and quick sail up the Blackwater river. I met some fascinating people on the barge including representatives from small bakeries to large scale operations which take tonnes of flour every week to supply the big supermarkets with baked products.

I will be writing up the feature in more detail in the coming weeks but would like to thanks Carr’s for their hospitality yesterday.



Excited for my first visit to a flour mill – Carrs in Maldon

Tomorrow (Thursday) I will be getting into the car and heading off down the M25 to visit Carrs flour mill in Maldon. I love seeing factory buildings in operation and cannot wait to see what Carrs has to offer.Carrs has an enviable history when it comes to wheat – founder Jonathan Dodgson Carr was a leading campaigner against the Corn Laws and the company has since evolved in a totally 21st century operation.

I cannot wait to see a flour mill in operation for the first time – hopefully this will be the first of many such visits and I am looking forward to seeing their innovations firsthand. They promise to work hard to get the best for their consumers despite the fractious nature of wheat markets.

I am also hoping to pick up some nice sea salt!

U.S. welcomes Mexico agreement over free trade

The U.S. Grains Council has agreed to work with Mexico on keeping North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) modernization efforts moving.

U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight said: “We are grateful for news today that the United States and Mexico have reached an agreement that will keep NAFTA modernization efforts moving. This agreement is a major step forward for our relationship with Mexico and is a result of hard work over the last year to closely examine our vital partnership.

“Mexico is extremely important to every sector we represent. Yet, so too is Canada, our second largest ethanol market and a top ten corn market. We hope the agreement today opens the door for Canada’s reengagement, and we continue to oppose withdrawal from the existing NAFTA under any circumstances except the adoption of a new, beneficial and trilateral pact.

“We look forward to analyzing the provisions the United States and Mexico announced today and continued work toward the goal of an improved trilateral agreement.”

The American Feed Industry Association also welcomed the news.

AFIA’s Director of International Policy and Trade Gina Tumbarello said: “For more than 20 years, the US animal food manufacturing industry has reaped the benefits of trading animal food, feed ingredients and pet food across its northern and southern borders.

“The North American Free Trade Agreement has not only supported thousands of jobs within the feed and associated industries, it has grown the animal food and feed ingredient export markets in Mexico and Canada to the United Stateslargest and second largest, respectively, today.

“We are encouraged to see the progress US and Mexican trade officials made over several months in resolving their differences and modernising the agreement, and hope that Canada will quickly follow suit so that industries in all three countries can continue to benefit from the largest free trade zone in the world.”