Like many other inputs in the agriculture sector, supplemental fat prices have recently skyrocketed. Over the past two years, soybean oil has increased to three times its previous value. So what is driving up the cost of these fat sources for swine diets? One issue is the increasing demand for biofuels which causes competition for the soybean oil supply.
Understanding the Connection Between Biofuel and Supplemental Fat
Among the additional fat sources for swine diets, soybean oil, choice white grease, animal vegetable blend and corn oil are the most predominant.
Soybean oil is also highly sought after for biodiesel and renewable diesel. With the current administration’s focus on renewable energy and lowering carbon emissions, demand isn’t slowing down soon. So while the U.S. tries to depend less on crude oil and petroleum, soybean and corn oils will continue to be pushed towards alternative fuel sources.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, biodiesel is currently composed of 57% soybean oil, up 5% from the report two years prior. With the upward trend, it will be hard for the livestock sector to compete for the fat supply.
Source: Biodiesel Magazine, Rabobank 2021
As the production capacity for renewable diesel increases (shown by the blue bars in the chart above), more vegetable oil is required in the fuels market. This lessens the amount available to the livestock sector and drives up the cost, taking fat from an economical choice for producers to a pricey additive to a swine diet.
Economists suggest that the soybean oil supply will get tight in the upcoming months, only driving the price up further. Even if soybean oil is taken off the market because it’s unavailable, the prices of other fat sources will continue to rise.
Saving on Costs—Without Skimping on Energy
If producers have fat in their swine diets, the return over feed cost dwindles and the inputs should be evaluated. Swine producers should consult their nutritionist to see what other avenues may be available to add energy to their pigs’ diets.
Supplemental fats can generally be pulled from the nursery and grow-finish diets and replaced with other sources of energy. Sows in gestation generally don’t get fat in their diets to maintain good body condition. However, it’s important to leave the fat in the diets of lactating sows to provide quality milk for their piglets and maintain good caloric intake and body condition of sows.
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