BRUSSELS — The European Pet Food Industry (FEDIAF) is warning of a new threat to pet food processors following proposals from the European Parliament and Council on biofuel production. The European Union is currently considering using certain animal byproducts, which are heavily used in the pet food industry, to create biofuel.

The European Union is planning to introduce incentives for the use of animal fat byproducts for the aviation and maritime industries to use as biofuel. These products, called Category Three, are sustainable ingredients essential to pets’ diets, according to FEDIAF. 

According to the association, many non-governmental organizations are disputing the proposed incentives, citing more suitable alternatives to create sustainable biofuel without impacting the pet food industry.

“Animal fats with high food safety risk, called Category One and Two, which cannot be used in pet food or animal feed due to safety reasons, are more suitable for use in biofuels for the transport sector,” FEDIAF claimed in its statement.

According to FEDIAF, it supports decarbonization, a key pillar of the European Green Deal, however, the association believes animal fat byproducts should not be diverted to the fuel industry in the hopes of creating more sustainable fuels.

“[W]e do not believe that valuable pet food ingredients belong in engines,” said Rosa Carbonell, president of FEDIAF. “Animal fats are essential to our pets’ diets. We do not think that essential pet food ingredients should be diverted to aviation and maritime engines.”

Category Three animal fats are not easy to replace for the pet food industry, according to FEDIAF, and can only be substituted with much less sustainable options that are in direct competition with the human food industry. The policies may also drive up the overall carbon footprint of the pet food processing industry, erasing decades of major progress and reduction, and would likely increase product prices, according to FEDIAF. 

“If policymakers push through these incentives for aviation and marine fuel, it will make it very difficult to feed pets across the European Union and heighten the risk of shortages,” FEDAIF explained in its statement. “The food crisis may soon reach our pets, too. The EU’s pet food sector serves over 300 million companion animals in Europe each year and provides direct (and indirect) employment to more than 1 million European citizens.”

FEDIAF’s warning builds upon the food versus fuel debate facing the US pet food industry, as detailed by Betsy Flores, senior vice president of public policy at Pet Food Institute. In the interest of addressing climate change and sustainability, US state and federal lawmakers have introduced several policies incentivizing the use of plant- and animal-based oils and fats to create renewable diesel, further reducing the availability of these ingredients for pet food and treat processors.

If the proposals in the European Union pass, pet food and treat processors throughout the region — and worldwide — may face an even tighter supply chain environment while striving to meet consumer demand. 

According to FEDIAF, it will commit itself to raising awareness on the issue and “hopes policymakers will join its members and demonstrate that decarbonizing transport should not come at the expense of over 300 million family pets and their 90 million owners across Europe.”

Read more about supply chain topics affecting the industry on our Operations page.