Japanese pigs and poultry enjoy sukiyaki
Due to high feed costs, Japanese pigs and poultry eat more food scraps from restaurants and supermarkets instead
of their normal diets.
Japan disposes around 20 million tonnes of food waste per year. The
leftovers used to be dumped in landfills where they decomposed and produced
methane, a greenhouse gas. However government legislation since 2001
has stimulated to turn food scraps into animal feed. Initially,
farmers had been reluctant to feed the recycled food, but rising feed prices
have made them more receptive to it. Feed from recycled food is about half the
price of regular feed.
This trend has
stimulated former garbage truck driver to set up Agri Gaia System, at the
moment the largest food recycling company in Japan. His drivers now cart
truckloads of rice balls, sandwiches and milk discarded by 1,200 7-Eleven stores
to his factory on the outskirts of Tokyo, where the food scraps are
turned into two types of dry feed after a final heating process - one rich
in fat and protein, the other lower in fat and protein but with more
carbohydrates - and a liquid type, from pasteurized drinks such as milk and
A blind test of pork shows respondents tell the
difference immediately, according to a university research. The fat of the pigs
fed recycled food is sweeter than usual. Another effect of tasty feed is that
hens produce more eggs than usual.
The feed is not used for cattle or
sheep because of strict health regulations that were imposed to prevent mad cow
Rely on imports
Japan imports about 75% of its raw
materials from abroad. It is the world's biggest importer of corn used for
animal feed. The recent price increases of corn and soy meal have raised demand
for recycled feed, but it still accounts for only 1% of raw material use in
Japan, or about 150,000 metric tons in 2006, twice as much as in 2003.
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