Amino Report

April 2021

What’s up with agricultural commodities? Prices!

According to many analysts, the current high grain and oilseed prices are likely to remain for the foreseeable future. Here are a few of the reasons why …

In other news

The European Union (EU) may lift the ‘feed ban’

In the 1990s, bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE) caused a major scare and the European Commission and Parliament subsequently prohibited the use processed animal proteins (PAP) and meat and bone meal (MBM) in animal feed. Since 2010, however, regular calls have been heard to loosen the restrictions in order allow feed producers to utilise a valuable protein source. The relatively high cost of soybean meal in recent times is not mentioned, but surely must have played a role in encouraging lawmakers to give serious consideration to the matter. 

poultry nutrition influences eggshell quality

Bird flu in Ekurhuleni

An outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI), or bird flu, was reported on a commercial layer farm near Ekurhuleni in mid-April. According to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), the farm was also affected by the widespread outbreak of H5N8 in 2017. A total of 300 birds died in the latest outbreak, while the remaining birds in the same house were destroyed and the farm quarantined. Botswana has subsequently banned the import of all poultry products from South Africa, with immediate effect, while other neighbouring countries had not responded yet at the time of writing. Other outbreaks around the world have also been reported recently, with Bulgaria being the most affected. Six outbreaks have been reported since the start of the year, which has already led to almost 500 000 layers and ducks being culled.

Chinese pork output rebounds, but profits plunge

Chinese pork output rose by nearly 32% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to a year earlier and reached 13,69 million tonnes. The national pig herd also showed promising growth during the period reaching 416 million head, up from 406 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2020. Major investments by pork producers have helped the recovery of Chinese pork production after the widespread devastation caused by African swine fever (ASF) from 2018 to 2020. However, the threat is not over yet and various outbreaks have been reported over the winter months. Many analysts outside China have questioned the official reports that outbreaks are limited in scope and under control, but looking at indirect indicators, such as domestic pork prices and soybean and pork imports, it seems to be the case. Pork prices plunged more than 40% over the period, while soybean imports from the US increased dramatically, especially given weather-related delays in shipments from Brazil. The Chinese government has recently announced a plan to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. According to the proposal, China will be divided into five regions. Each region shall be responsible for monitoring and managing outbreaks. No animals will be allowed to cross between regions, except for breeding animals and piglets. Slaughter animals must be processed in the same region. The system was piloted in six southern provinces and seems to have been moderately successful in curbing outbreaks.


Protein supplement

courtesy of JVD Commodities (Pty) Ltd

Protein prices in South Africa have started to stabilise after reaching record highs in the beginning of the year. This can be attributed to various factors which include, but are not limited to:

  • A gradual strengthening of the ZAR against the USD.
  • Chicago soybean meal prices coming down after reaching seven-year highs.
  • Improved availability of sunflower seed and soya beans as the local harvest is now in full swing.
  • A positive local crush margin.
  • Local crushers increasing discounts as meal becomes more readily available.

Sunflower oilcake prices are showing a significant downward trend into forward months as its correction against soybean meal continues.

CBOT daily moving averages:

  • 50-day: 411,6
  • 100-day: 415,7
  • 200-day: 374,2

Sunflower oilcake – month average

Delivery month

Previous month

Current month



R6 300

R5 500



R6 050

R5 350



R5 553

R5 328



R5 538

R5 368



R5 536

R5 397



R5 582

R5 418



R5 589

R5 436




R5 448


Soybean meal – Month average

Delivery month

Previous month

Current month



R7 772

R7 852



R7 832

R7 881



R7 925

R7 898



R7 940

R7 959



R7 954

R8 002



R7 990

R8 035



R8 010

R8 061




R8 080



Monthly soybean meal chart


Shipping Update

Global shipping lines are bracing themselves for second round of container shortages. Ports in the US are struggling with sheer number of imports causing congestion in all major ports.

Imports are up by 80% year-on-year and thanks to the Suez blockage last month, a surge of vessels has hit US ports. A shortage of chassis to move containers out of the ports to inland destinations is aggravating the situation, with an average turnaround time of around 17 days. Long lines at terminals are adding to the woes by reducing the number of containers being moved. Port trucks usually move seven to eight containers per day, but that is now down to between one and three, depending on the port. The container shortages seen last year caused mayhem in international shipping and sent freight rates skyrocketing. After the Suez blockage and the subsequent effect on international shipping, freight rates have again increased. The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index rose to its highest level this year. Major shippers have been concluding long-term contracts with carriers at double the average rates seen in 2020 on major routes. It seems that higher freight rates are here to stay for some time.


The amino acid encyclopaedia

by Ashley Grimsell

The amino acid encyclopaedia will contain new terms with each report, providing more information about these terms that appear in the technical update and that may be of interest to you, our reader. The terms which feature in the encyclopaedia may also be relevant to subsequent issues of the amino report.

We’ll be back next month with some more additions to our amino acid encyclopaedia!

In Focus

by Ashley Grimsell


In this edition of the Amino Report, we will dig deeper into the different forms of methionine and how they differ in terms of absorption and metabolism within the animal.

Methionine is usually the first-limiting amino acid in poultry (Willke, 2014) and aquatic feeds, coming in as the second- or third-limiting amino acid in swine feeds (Yang et al., 2019). For this reason, supplementary methionine is added to the diets of these livestock species in order to support production and efficiency. Several methionine products exist on the market, namely L-methionine, hydroxy acid (2-hydroxy-4-methylthiobutanoic acid or HMB), or as a calcium salt of the hydroxy acid, methionine hydroxy analogue (MHA), and D-methionine (Saunderson, 1985).

Check out this cool video by our partner, CJ Bio, on L-methionine,


Maenz, D.D., Engele-Schaan, C.M., 1996. Methionine and 2-hydroxy-4-methylthiobutanoic acid are transported by distinct Na+-dependent and H+-dependent systems in the brush border membrane of the chick intestinal epitheliumThe Journal of Nutrition, 126(2), pp.529–536.

Martin-Venegas, R., Geraert, P.A., Ferrer, R., 2006. Conversion of the methionine hydroxy analogue DL-2-hydroxy-(4-methylthio) butanoic acid to sulfur-containing amino acids in the chicken small intestinePoultry Science, 85(11), pp.1932–1938.

Saunderson, C.L., 1985. Comparative metabolism of L-methionine, DL-methionine and DL-2-hydroxy 4-methylthiobutanoic acid by broiler chicksBritish Journal of Nutrition, 54(3), pp.621–633.

Shen, Y.B., Ferket, P., Park, I., Malheiros, R.D., Kim, S.W., 2015. Effects of feed grade L-methionine on intestinal redox status, intestinal development, and growth performance of young chickens compared with conventional DL-methionineJournal of Animal Science, 93(6), pp.2977–2986.

Willke, T., 2014. Methionine production—a critical reviewApplied microbiology and biotechnology, 98(24), pp.9893–9914.

Yang, Z., Hasan, M.S., Htoo, J.K., Burnett, D.D., Feugang, J.M., Crenshaw, M.A. and Liao, S.F., 2019. Effects of dietary supplementation of l-methionine vs. dl-methionine on performance, plasma concentrations of free amino acids and other metabolites, and myogenesis gene expression in young growing pigsTranslational Animal Science, 3(1), pp.329–339.

In addition to the above references, this document also contains information from the following sources:

For more information

contact Heinrich Jansen van Vuuren

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