Just a couple of days before the Atlanta Falcons stepped onto the field for the American Football Super bowl, the team’s hometown hosted the IPPE, the International Production & Processing Expo. Why was the Super Bowl important? Well it was predicted that American’s would eat 1.33 billion chicken wings during the game, according to the National Chicken Councils estimates. And with the game on against the New England Patriots, it is one of the few moments public perception was distracted from chicken production.
If the latest edition of the IPPE exhibition learned one thing, it was that public perception was at centre stage. During last year’s edition the ban on in-feed antibiotics by 1 January 2017 was a hot topic, now it is the realisation of that goal, without negative consequences for production, health status or profit.
For decades the use of antibiotics was a tried and proven method to enhance performance and keep birds healthy. But the emergence of so called superbugs and public pressure to step away from antimicrobials, has led to the poultry industry reinventing itself. With large retailers such as Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s wanting to phase out the use of chickens raised with antibiotics, there was only one way to go forward. And on the contrary, with antibiotic use it is not a single step approach. As Cargill’s poultry technology director Henk Enting states: “The phasing out of antibiotics asks for a holistic and integrated approach, covering all the bases in production, from breeders to hatchers and from day old chicks to the processors. There needs to be a focus on nutrition, but farm management practices are even more important.” The trend seen at the IPPE exhibition floor is that companies are trying to get all the pieces of the puzzle to fit together in de best possible way. In the egg laying industry, a same trend is visible when it comes to changing and implementation of alternative (aviary) systems.
More than ever the realisation is there that animal protein production is the new high-tech industry of the world. Diamond V’s president Jeff Cannon says: “Instead of just producing food, we are in the business of producing safer food. We all have the responsibility to go the distance in producing safe food.” What happened to be the domain of the meat processing exhibitioners at the IPPE show ground, becomes more and more an industry obligation. Innovations in food processing still focus on ensuring product safety, but the so called pre-harvest solutions are gaining traction.
Preventing disease agents, bugs or contaminations from entering the food growing and production process, is again a matter of great importance and a matter which needs the involvement of all links in the food production chain. Antibiotics, mycotoxin binders and post harvest treatments can still be an insurance policy for safe food, but the real wins can be made during production. And it is this system improvement which will improve consumer perception.
Jerry Moye, the recently retired president of Cobb-Vantress, was elected chairman of the board of directors of US Poultry & Egg Association. The board meeting was held during the International Poultry Expo, part of the 2017 International Production & Processing Expo. He previously served as vice chairman. Moye was presented with the time-honoured ‘working man’s gavel’ (see photo) by Paul Hill, 2016 chairman.
Moye graduated with a degree in economics from Washington College in Maryland. He spent 16 years in integrated chicken production for two large US integrators, Showell Farms of Maryland and Zacky Farms of California, before joining Cobb-Vantress in 1991, where he held a variety of positions. He is the retired president of Cobb-Vantress, Inc. and continues to consult for the company. In addition, he is a former chair of The Poultry Federation.
US Poultry & Egg Association, founded in 1947, is the all-feather organisation representing the complete spectrum of today’s poultry industry, whose mission is to progressively serve member companies through research, education, communication, and technical assistance.