As of late April, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has witnessed localized supply shortages of blood meal for livestock feed in the United States, but not of ingredients specific to dog, cat and other pet foods, Leah Wilkinson, vice president of public policy and education for AFIA said.
“If this goes on for a long time, yes there could potentially be some disruption,” Wilkinson said.
The pet food and livestock feed industries started reacting to COVID-19 while the disease was confined to China, she said.
“We know that China is a significant exporter and source of vitamins and amino acids in particular,” Wilkinson said. “We’ve been able to monitor the situation and we knew there would be tightening of supply, from when they closed and until whenever they opened. The industry jumped on top early to keep access to those ingredients… Relationships with suppliers around the world allowed diversifying the supply chain.”
African swine fever inadvertently prepared industry for COVID-19
The feed industry was already dealing African swine fever (ASF), an ongoing outbreak that has decimated Chinese pig farms, she said. The pet food and feed industries learned from ASF about dealing with viral transmission.
“There had been holding of ingredients to reduce ASF transmission, so we had stocks built up,” she said. “What I’ve heard is that things are improving with shipping, but not great. Their ports are up and running, and so are ours, after initial COVID closures. Now that we have more information on how to operate and deal with employees that test positive, that seems to be working better.”