There are two categories for animal fat destined for the food chain:
In addition to being the main product from crude or unrendered fats, rendered animal fats are also extracted as a by-product in the gelatine production process. These fats are suitable for use in animal feeds.
There are also two animal fat categories for the industrial and energy sectors:
The crude or unrendered fat is heated and separated into rendered animal fat and animal proteins. Each type has its own legal requirements for the production process, hygiene, transport and storage, inspection, mandatory documentation and authorised destinations.
The Animal Fat Sector
The animal fat sector comprises the following companies:
Suppliers such as slaughterhouses (meat sector) and buyers such as compound feed companies (animal feed sector), oleochemical companies (chemical sector) and energy producers (energy sector) maintain close links with the sector, and while they belong to the chain they are not considered part of the animal fat sector.
Four Types of Producers
There are four types of producers of animal fat, depending on the raw materials they process:
The first two acquire their raw materials from animals that the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has authorised for human consumption.
The other producers process by-products that are unsuitable for human consumption.
Production of Animal Fats Flowchart
The flowchart below shows the distinction between the various categories of animal fat and the position of the types of producers within the chain.
Production of Animal Fats Flowchart Explanatory Notes
Producers of Compound Fats
The sector also includes producers of compound fats. They blend various types of animal fats and potentially supplement them with vegetable oils to create compound fats that meet the buyer's specifications. They can also include merchants with their own storage and transportation facilities. Blending requires precision with products for buyers in the compound feed industry and in the artificial milk production sector.
Production of Compound Fats Flowchart
The flowchart below shows the position of producers of compound fats within the chain.
Companies in the animal fat sector can be subdivided in accordance with their key economic activity.
Semi-finished Products Animal fat forms the basis for a large number of industrial and consumer products. The 'oleochemical industry' processes the fats into semi-finished products, the so-called fat derivatives. The most important derivatives are fatty acids, glycerines, esters, soaps and dimers.
Consumer Products Fat derivatives fulfil various functions in a wide range of consumer products. They enhance the cleaning, moisturising, foaming and washing effects of personal care products, such as shampoos, soaps, creams, lotions and makeup. Furthermore, the soap industry uses beef tallow on a large scale in the production of soap.
Industry also uses fat derivatives. In paper recycling they facilitate the removal of ink from old paper without damaging the paper.
Industrial and household soaps and cleaning agents wash and foam (in part) thanks to animal fat derivatives. The same derivatives supply the basic product stearin for candles, potentially blended with paraffin, and for (polishing) wax and cleaning agents.
Animal fat esters form the basis for various kinds of plastics and for substances used in the production of plastics; stabilisers, lubricants (to ensure that products easily detach from moulds), substances that counteract static and product turbidity, and emulsifiers that promote polymerisation.
Animal fats form the basis for all kinds of industrial lubricants, as well as for non-toxic, biodegradable lubricants. The fat derivatives enable specific applications, such as cleaning hard surfaces.
The oleochemical industry supplies cutting oils, cooling liquids, and cleaning and polishing agents to the metal working industries and smelters. Drilling and cutting machines are cooled and lubricated using animal fat-based products.
The high energy density of animal fats is the key reason for using animal fats for energy generation.
Bio-energy This is done by using the fats in a power generation plant, where the available energy is converted into electricity. Animal fats are also combusted in the glasshouse horticulture sector for generating heat and bio-diesel.
Bio-diesel Finally, animal fats can be converted into bio-diesel through means of esterification.
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