Animal-based and sustainable: the return of PAP offers opportunities

11 April 2023

In September 2021, Processed Animal Proteins (PAP) were reintroduced within the European Union. ForFarmers has been processing PAP in poultry feed since March 2022. This way, valuable nutrients are not lost and we are emitting less CO2. Joost Sparla, Marketing and Technical Director for Poultry, explains why ForFarmers was eager to act. “PAP offers opportunities in terms of sustainability. More and more parties are recognising this, but because we were quick to act, we are one of the few who can get the required and limited available supply.”

Animal proteins = sustainable proteins

Joost Sparla
Joost Sparla

Thanks to the admission of PAPs, slaughterhouse co-products from animals deemed fit for human consumption may be used again in animal feed. According to Joost, the use of PAP fits into ForFarmers’ sustainability ambitions. “With our sustainability strategy Going Circular, we aim to reduce emissions and prevent losses. PAP’s fit in perfectly with that. PAP is a residual product and so its carbon footprint is considerably lower than that of the protein-rich raw materials it replaces, such as soya.”

“Another aspect: because PAP is an important source of phosphate we are able to avoid unnecessary losses. Phosphate is a limited available natural resource and by using PAP, we contribute to less depletion of these resources. In terms of sustainability, PAP has many advantages, while animal performance certainly does not decrease; it provides the animals with the same nutrients.”

Strict rules

Despite these advantages, the reintroduction of PAP was complex and also sensitive. “You can sense that since the BSE crisis, not everyone has been positive about using PAP. It was assumed that BSE, or ‘mad cow disease’, could be passed on through animal meal from infected animals. Now with the reintroduction there now are very strict rules and regulations to follow: the animal must be classed as healthy at the abattoir. For example: from the same pig we eat a ham from, PAP is made for poultry feed. Adding PAP from poultry into poultry feed, or PAP from pigs into pig feed remains prohibited. That separation is very strict, down to the DNA level.”

PAPs from different animals are also strictly separated logistically and physically. This legislation does come with challenges. “Complete separation of production lines is not easily done at every production facility and sometimes requires an investment that exceeds the benefits. In the Netherlands, we choose to process pig PAP into poultry feed in Zelhem and Delden, and in Germany we also process PAP in Rapshagen and Langförden.”

Legislation United Kingdom

Contrary to the EU, in the UK the use of PAP is currently not allowed. Joost: “European legislation does not apply to the UK, PAP is not allowed in animal feed here. Meat from animals fed with this type of feed is therefore also not allowed to be exported to the UK. However, this may change in time, as the UK regulator has yet to look into this.”

Future prospects

Nevertheless, Joost does see plenty of opportunities in the field of PAP. “At the moment, not all rendering plants* are able to meet the requirements imposed by EU legislation on the processing of PAP. These requirements include, for example, keeping different animal species separate and also following certain processes. But in time, more and more mills will be able to do this, and so more PAP will become available. I see the circularity of PAP as a great opportunity. By processing it in animal feed, we are able to valorise it much better and more sustainably than if you use it as fertiliser or have to burn it.”

*) Plants where animal residual flows from slaughterhouses are converted into usable products.

Poultry feed may only contain PAP from pigs.
Poultry feed may only contain PAP from pigs.