Climate change is also impacting bird populations. Feed birds and help nature and the environment!
New figures reveal a decline in farmland birds at a level approaching an ecological catastrophe.
Take France: bird numbers have declined by a third in the past 15 years. Similarly, declining bird populations have been registered in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.
This decline is due to a lack of flying insects, which itself is thought to be a result of the excessive use of pesticides.
Can the pet industry help?
The pet industry is key to providing bird feed all year around to consumers. But, we are faced with a number of challenges:
- The traditional bird-feeding consumers are ageing. It is important that we inform younger generations as to the importance of feeding birds.
- The ban on plastic packaging requires manufacturers to reinvent products and their packaging.
- Climate change is driving up the price of raw materials.
- New EU legislation regarding pesticides will hopefully benefit insect populations.
Ban on single-use plastics
The EU recently approved a draft directive on marine pollution and single-use plastics. In line with this, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of fat balls – producing over one million balls a day – has decided to produce fat balls without net. This initiative is expected to be fully implemented at the end of 2019 already!
In 2011, ‘no net’ fat balls were introduced for the first time. Since, such net-free products have been widely embraced by consumers and bird lovers. They are even more popular than biodegradable netting, to the extent that they are the most sold item in most mature wild bird markets. ‘No net’ is also in compliance with sustainability goals and initiatives of almost all retailers across Europe. Fat balls without net are eaten twice as much in the same time.
The climate – and seasonal weather – has a huge impact on the price of the main raw materials used in bird feed. Like in many other pet categories, one of the biggest challenges is price competition.
Many retailers across Europe have used the wild bird category as traffic builders: offering low price deals, resulting in volume based growth.
However, the price of raw materials is extremely volatile. Now, climate change and extreme weather conditions are a serious threat to harvests, and with that the price of raw material.
FACT BOX – market development
wild bird segment:
- Nowadays, nature ‘supplies’ less food than
- 10 years ago, due to excessive use of pesticides.
- The actual number of birds is decreasing. We can help maintain their numbers by feeding them.
- As traditional bird lovers are getting older, it is
- vital that younger generations are made aware of the decline in bird numbers and what they can do to help.
- An increasing number of bird feed products is available. Also with bird species-specific mixes.
- Similarly, there is a wide choice in feeding systems: from low- to high-end with beautiful and functional designs.
- Increasingly, products are more sustainable, with 100% recyclable feeding systems and ‘no net’ fat balls.
- Feeding birds throughout all four seasons is now widely accepted and supported by most European bird associations.
- Distribution channels are shifting and now include pet retail, DIY/garden centres, grocery retail and e-commerce.
More birds in your garden?
More birds are moving from agricultural areas and surrounding woods into new, suitable habitats such as gardens. However, in gardens also, the supply of natural food is limited. It is therefore necessary that we feed these wild birds.
The best for your garden birds
A garden bird has only short time slots of activity during the day for most of the year. It is essential these birds have easy access to high nutrition food to stay healthy. They prefer carbohydrate rich seeds (millet seeds are favourite!). The composition of seed mixtures and fat balls are now being optimised to the different seasons. It has always been presumed that garden birds need fatty seeds and nuts. However, research has shown that birds only prefer fatty diets during the moulting season and winter.
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