Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when a microorganism becomes resistant to antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics. It is a rising problem for both humans and animals worldwide. If not tackled, it will soon become the number one global public health issue. By 2050, the United Nations (UN) estimates that 10 million deaths could be caused by AMR. At Nutreco, we are helping reduce AMR through a focus on reducing antibiotics given to animals; specifically, the most critical antibiotics for human health. 

Our ambition

We are helping to tackle AMR through our Antibiotic Reduction Programme, which aims to empower producers to safely and efficiently reduce the use of antibiotics. With a record of accomplishment spanning over 15 years, our integrated feed, farm and health approach has helped producers to achieve at least equal but, in most cases, improved productivity, while reducing antibiotic usage. Nutreco's Antibiotic Reduction Programme safeguards animal health, animal welfare and production profitability. 

Our targets

  • No use of antibiotics categorised by WHO* as “Critically Important" for human health (CIA) in our products and services
  • No use of antibiotics for growth promotion in our products and services
  • No preventive** usage of antibiotics in our products and services
  • Engage with governments to promote regulatory reform

*As published in “Critically important antimicrobials for human medicine: 6th revision.”

**Ensure no preventive usage of antibiotics in our products and services. Any order of medicated premix/feed should be accompanied with a valid prescription from an authorised professional. 

Nutreco’s progress on antibiotic reduction in 2022

More than 70% of Nutreco antibiotics are sold in five Trouw Nutrition operating companies (OpCos). These five OpCos developed a three-year project plan in 2022 that includes technical, marketing and sales strategies, to reach 2025 antibiotic-reduction targets. Their first focus is on monogastrics, followed by ruminants. As a result of all these efforts, we have made good progress in reducing antibiotic usage.

 
Nutreco
Trouw Nutrition
Skretting
Critically Important Antibiotics (CIA) - 35% -35% -28%
Antibiotic Growth Promoters (AGP) and preventive use -17% -17% n.a.
Other antibiotics -28% -24% -34%

How do we do it?

Synergistic combination feed additives, improving raw material quality and biosecurity, accurate medication, and vaccination programmes can all contribute to reducing the reliance on antibiotics. However, there is no silver bullet. The implementation and application of potent products should always be backed up by, and in line with, each customer's particular situation and audits. We have developed a five-step antibiotic reduction program to support customers with a holistic approach – including feed, farm and health management – that makes the switch to the responsible use of antibiotics easy and manageable. 

Feed

Reducing the use of antibiotics requires us to consider many different aspects of feed management, including feed safety and the nutritional quality and physical properties of the feed. For each farm, we evaluate where it is most efficient to take action: in the raw material, in the feed production, or in both. For example, moulds and mycotoxins can have an adverse effect on gut integrity and immunity, so we can apply solutions that help prevent and manage contamination. On the nutritional side, we help producers evaluate and improve the nutritional quality of the feed for optimal performance and health. 

For young animals, the practice of providing specially designed feed formulations that cover all these aspects of feed management, in combination with a tailored package of feed additives, is rapidly gaining in popularity. Giving young animals early access to high-quality nutrition is essential for healthy development and minimizing the need for antibiotics throughout their lifespan. 

Farm

Good farm management includes the practices, protocols and environmental conditions that impact animal health and development. The bigger the farm, the more biosecurity – both internal and external – becomes an important part of farm management. When antibiotics are removed from feed and water, previously hidden farm management risks come into view. Our team of experts helps customers define and improve the aspects of production that are most critical to successfully reducing antibiotics.  

Health

Keeping animals healthy, which also involves managing viral and parasitic challenges, is essential for enhancing resilience and minimizing the need for antibiotics. The gastrointestinal tract is the animal’s main immune organ, and, especially in monogastrics, antibiotics are commonly used to control gut health. Keeping the gut healthy, including through the synergistic use of feed additives, is a prerequisite for overall animal health and performance, and reduces the need for antibiotics.

Case Study: Tackling AMR through local efforts

Our business in Brazil decided to start phasing out toll manufacturing CIAs, resulting in a 54% reduction in CIAs. And by increasing awareness around the importance of reducing antibiotic use, they were also able to reduce AGPs and other antibiotic usage.  

In 2023, our South African OpCo created a strategy for training the local team and increasing awareness, to reduce AGPs in monogastrics at customers’ facilities.  

Skretting Spain and our Trouw Nutrition Iberia business unit made significant progress in reducing the use of antibiotics in 2022. They reduced CIA sales through a joint effort with customers, veterinarians and the government, that included co-creating solutions and proactively cooperating with Spain's National Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (PRAN). Their efforts were based around offering customers value-added non-antibiotic solutions and a holistic approach to disease management that takes into account the feed, farm and health aspects of their value chains.

Our Iberia business unit reduced CIA use by 61% during 2022. All its divisions dramatically lowered antibiotic use, and its pharma division stopped all antibiotic sales from January 1, 2023. The business unit also managed to reduce non-CIA use by almost the same level. Skretting Spain reduced CIA sales by 91% in 2022 and reduced non-CIA use by a similar level – a major success. 

Topics

Our approach to AMR
Animal welfare