COLOGNE, GERMANY — Despite concerns about the impact of African swine fever that is devastating China’s pig population and threatens to expand to other parts of the world, delegates at this year’s Victam International 2019 exhibition, held this week in Cologne, Germany, expressed optimism about the feed industry’s future and curiosity about the new technology on display on the trade show floor.

Sebas van de Ende, recently hired as general manager of Victam International, said about 5,000 visitors were expected at this year’s event — about the same as the last time the event was held four years ago — including a large contingent from Europe, which has seen an increase in feed production in recent years.

“What we’re hearing from people is that the spirit and the atmosphere here is more positive than it was four years ago,” van de Ende said. “They are seeing more investments being made in the industry and people more and more are talking about feed quality and safety.”

Among the companies displaying their latest feed technology breakthroughs was Bühler, which launched its new single-screw extruder PolyOne at Victam. The extruder is designed to deliver high quality product for the pet food and aquafeed industries.

Michael Cheng, Bühler’s global business development manager, Pet Food and Aquafeed, said PolyOne is hygienically designed to meet the highest feed safety standards.

“In the designs of older equipment there are a lot of areas you can’t reach to clean,” Cheng said. “All the surfaces and area on the machine can be reached. This is important, especially when you’re doing something like changing the formulation from dog food to cat food. Dog food contains a lot of fresh meat and fish. You have to be able to clean the last batch thoroughly by using hot water to prevent salmonella contamination and things like that.”

Cheng said Polyone also gives feed manufacturers the ability to process petfood and aquafeed without having to change the screw profiles.

“This will mean much less downtime,” he noted. “This machine can process at least 10 tonnes per hour and up to 13 or 14 tonnes per hour for some products. That’s a lot of production lost if you are down for an hour.”

Also on display at the Bühler booth was LumoVision, a data-driven maize-sorting technology developed in partnership with Microsoft, that is designed to identify and remove grains containing aflatoxin, classified as a primary human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and which contributes to stunting the growth of millions of children.

Benedict Deefholts, research engineer at Bühler, said the technology has the potential to have a dramatic impact on the lives of children, particularly in developing countries.

“You’re seeing this at a feed exhibition primarily because a lot of maize is used to feed dairy cattle,” he said. “The aflatoxin B1 gets converted into aflatoxin M1 in the cow, and the real concern is that the milk is then consumed by people. In places like India, Bangladesh and Kenya, this is a big problem as it causes stunted growth in millions of children every year.”

He said LumoVision, which eliminates up to 90% of contaminated maize, uses ultraviolet light to illuminate the product, as specially designed cameras look for particular wavelengths of light from the fluorescents coming off the grain.

“In basic terms, if it glows blue it’s a good grain and if it glows green then it probably has aflatoxin,” Deefholts said. “It doesn’t detect aflatoxin directly. When the aspergillus fungus, which causes aflatoxin, attacks the grain, it also produces another chemical, which is what we’re actually detecting.”

He noted that yield loss is less than 5% with LumoVision compared to 7% to 25% with conventional sorters.

VanAarsen, a Netherlands-based feed equipment manufacturer, ended the first day of the trade show by sharing a toast with its customers and agents to celebrate the company’s 70th year in business. It also learned that it had won the Innovation Award for its Hot Start Steam Mixer in the Animal Feed Technology and Nutrition category.

Marco Theunissen, area sales manager for VanAarsen, explained that the steam mixer, which is the first step in the conditioning process, comes with a uniquely short start-up time, thus ensuring starch gelatinization within a very short time period.

“It helps to prevent wastage at batch start-up and shortens the batch time, which results in an increase in production time,” Theunissen said.

Another Netherlands-based feed specialist, Triott, unveiled its new GrainCam, a digital imaging solution that monitors everything in the grain mixing process from kernel size distribution and shape, to cross-contamination, to grain discoloration — a completely new but significant quality parameter for the feed industry.

With a resolution of 18 microns, the GrainCam has been piloted this year at the all-important grinding and mixing stage of a customer specializing in chicken feed.

Paul Eijmberts, area sales manager, Ottevanger Milling Engineers, said as well as ensuring better milling consistency, the technology has reduced production downtime through both hammermill maintenance and early alerting of sieve breakdown.

“The images are stored on a Google drive, which allows for handling customer complaints,” he said. “We can monitor feed recipes regarding their consistency, whether the recipes produced Monday, Wednesday and Friday have the same kernel size or have any color differences that would indicate something has changed. That can be very helpful not only to optimize the process, but also to handle customer complaints.”

Victam, the world’s largest dedicated event for the animal feed processing industries, is co-located with several conferences, including GRAPAS EMEA, a program for the grain, flour and rice processing industries and The Aquafeed Horizons Conference, Feed Strategy Conference Europe 2019, Petfood Forum Europe 2019, and the first International Feed Technology Conference.