The AIC feed sector has warned that two unrelated events have led to a shortage of Vitamin A and E for livestock that could persist for the next five months.

The first incident was a fire during October in a German plant that produces a key precursor to production of the two vitamins; second, closure of a Chinese facility on environmental grounds.

A fire at BASF’s citral plant at its Ludwigshafen headquarters site in Germany led to the shutdown of the facility, and the company declaring Force Majeure for contracts to supply citral and isoprenol-based aroma ingredients. BASF’s Vitamin A and E plants at the same site were already shut down for scheduled maintenance, but these downstream facilities depend on citral availability as an intermediate for the manufacture of Vitamin A and E.

“As the cleaning process, follow-up inspection, repair and restart of the citral plant will take several weeks, BASF is forced to extend the Force Majeure to Vitamin A, E and several carotenoid products,” says a BASF spokesman. The restart is unlikely to be before the end of March 2018, with a period needed to rebuild output.

Meanwhile, Chinese sources of the vitamins have been affected by a government crackdown on poor environmental performance prompted by rising air pollution levels in China. This has seen up to 40% of the country’s factories shut temporarily since September, according to some reports. This includes a factory making vitamins.

“There are reports that supplies are becoming very tight and the feed industry worldwide will have to manage a significant shortfall of two critical ingredients for several months,” advises George Perrott, head of the AIC Feed Sector. “It would appear that normal volumes may not be produced until March or April 2018.”

EU feed trade body FEFAC has already warned that existing stocks are not sufficient to offset the loss of new  production, so feed manufacturers globally will have no choice but to reduce the inclusion rates in feeds.  But it says the levels of supplementation for young and gestating animals will have to be maintained, in order to avoid adverse effects on animal welfare and growth rate.