In the Netherlands, animal fats are derived from cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals. The different animal fat types and qualities are divided into four categories established by law. The materials are classified in the slaughterhouse. The raw materials must meet strict legal provisions inspected by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

There are two categories for animal fat destined for the food chain:

  1. Animal fat suitable for human consumption. This fat does not have a category number. It is the only fat that falls under the Netherlands Hygiene Regulation for Foods of Animal Origin and not under the Animal By-products Regulation;
  2. Animal fat suitable for use in animal feeds, the so-called Category 3 Fat.

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:

  1. Animal fat suitable for use in industry, the so-called Category 2 Fat;
  2. Animal fat suitable for generating energy, the so-called Category 1 Fat.

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:

  • Producers of animal fats
  • Producers of compound fats
  • Trading companies in animal fats and compound fats

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:

  • Producers of animal fats suitable for human consumption;
  • Producers of animal fats suitable for use in animal feeds;
  • Producers of animal fats suitable for use in industry;
  • Producers of animal fats suitable for generating energy.

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

  • Category 1 and 2 animal by-products and the fats extracted from them may not be used for foods or animal feeds. In case of cattle, this also includes the so-called specific risk materials (SRM) as set out in the BSE legislation, which is always considered Category 1 material. For example, this applies to spinal marrow and brains. Slaughterhouses isolate this SRM and supply it to producers of animal fats that subject it to a specific, prescribed treatment to make it suitable for the energy sector.


  • Animal fats for human consumption must comply with the Netherlands Hygiene Regulation for Foods of Animal Origin. Depending on the application, these fats may or may not be used in refined form. For commercial reasons, this type of fat can also be used in animal feeds, in the industry sector or for energy generation (indicated by horizontal dotted lines between the boxes with the text 'animal fat' in the flowchart). In that case the provisions of the Animal By-products Regulation apply.

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.

Industrial Products
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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Last modified: October 23, 2017 08:47