László Bustyaházai: UBM leads the way in reducing palm oil use to protect animals
The use of palm oil is a controversial issue across the world. In our latest article, we received several questions from our readers about the use of palm oil and its substitution. Given the interest in our post, this time we asked László Bustyaházai, one of the owners of the UBM Group, and Henrik Baranyay, UBM R&D Product Manager, about this professional topic.
What do we know about palm oil and why is it so widely used in the food and animal feed industry?
László Bustyaházai: Palm oil or palm fat is a very cheap source of fat extracted from the flesh of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis ) fruit. The oil palm is the oil plant with the highest yields* and its oil is therefore available at a significantly lower price than other vegetable oils. Cost-effectiveness is a very attractive aspect for the industry. On the other hand, from a technological point of view, it is also an easy to handle additive, and its optimum consistency allows for a wide range of uses.
Typically, why is it used in animal feed and what is its main function?
Henrik Baranyay: The crude fat content in feeds normally used for dairy cows is around 2-2.5%, but that needs to be increased by a further 2-3% to meet the energy needs of cows producing a large quantity of milk. The most commonly used fat supplements are products containing hydrogenated palm oil.
What are the problems of using palm oil as an ingredient?
Henrik Baranyay: During hydrogenation, the unsaturated fatty acids in palm oil are saturated, so these products contain more than 90% of physiologically unfavourable medium and long chain saturated fatty acids (palmitic acid, stearic acid), which are incorporated into the lipid fraction of milk and do not have a beneficial effect on the quality of milk fat, the enjoyment value and health impact of processed products with a high milk fat content (butter, cheese).
László Bustyaházai: Moreover, the EU is constantly imposing restrictions on this raw material due to concerns about deforestation. In 2022, EU Member States adopted a law to prevent the sale in European stores of products triggering deforestation. The world’s largest palm oil exporter is Indonesia with 59% and Malaysia with 25%. Figures from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council show that exports to the European Union have been falling since 2015, with the Southeast Asian country’s exports to the EU down 10% last year to 1.47 million tonnes in 2021, a 40% drop from 2.43 million tonnes in 2015. It is possible that exports to the EU could be banned altogether due to the tightening measures.
What is unique about UBM’s technology which can replace palm oil?
László Bustyaházai: For the above reasons, our Group’s long-standing objective is to offer the dairy sector an alternative to palm oil-based supplements, which are extremely environmentally damaging and unfavourable in many respects, that provides the desired energy levels at similar or even lower cost levels through the reasonable use of raw materials (without protected fat supplementation). It has been known from the literature for decades that vegetable oils (flaxseed, soybean, pomace) significantly improve milk quality, so our hydrothermally protected product SoyPreme, with 20% crude fat soybean launched 10 years ago, was an excellent solution.
Henrik Baranyay: Our feeding concept, based on many years of experience, allows us to safely replace palm oil-based protected fat supplements in the ration of dairy cows under continuous control. Our strategy is certified by a certification trademark approved by POFCAP (PALM OIL FREE CERTIFICATION ACCREDITATION PROGRAMME).
What are the elements of UBM’s feed concept?
László Bustyaházai: In our laboratory, we have introduced the RUFAL (Rumen Unsaturated Fatty Acid Load) test, which allows the control of unsaturated fatty acid load in the rumen from both TMRs and feed materials. These fatty acids may be responsible for the synthesis in the rumen of the molecules that cause milk fat depression.
Henrik Baranyay: In addition, we have established a network of skilled bulk feed production advisors, where we employ colleagues who provide our partners with weekly assistance on analytical testing of bulk feed, agronomic, bulk feed production and storage issues. It can be said that the genetically determined production potential of the Holstein-Friesian herds that are now widespread cannot be achieved without feedstuffs of optimum digestibility and energy content. By increasing the nutritional value of our bulk feeds, by appropriate species selection and by harvesting in optimal phenological condition, we can reduce the vulnerability of dairy herds to fat supplementation.
László Bustyaházai: Since 2007, we have been formulating feed rations based on the recommendations of the Protein and Carbohydrate Assessment System developed by the University of Cornell (CNCPS). We operate our software (CPM, AMTS, NDS, Bestmix) in a harmonised and compatible system with our laboratory, so we can ensure that the feed materials are incorporated into the daily rations as accurately as possible, using the most precise method, based on the digestibility parameters tested. This complex system and professional background allow us to extend palm oil-free technology to a wider range of products, which is one of the long-term goals of the UBM Group.
* NAK/Dr. Eszter Karolina Fogarassy (article in Hungarian language): Use of palm oil in food production
Photo: Bakony Ho-Li Ltd.
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