Pollen supplements and substitutes in the EU feed market: a product/market survey for bees and other animal species
A survey to overview the presence of pollen supplements and substitutes for bees and other animal species in the EU was conducted to serve as input for the regulatory risk assessment of genetically modified feed by the EFSA GMO Panel. A comprehensive mapping of the possible presence of pollen collected by honey bees in the feed supply chain requires an understanding of the production in the EU as well as the flow of imports from non‐EU to EU countries. The different uses of pollen as feed supplement were compiled by both identifying products being offered as well as the scientific and grey literature describing the applicability of pollen as feed for invertebrates such as honey bees and bumble bees as well as vertebrates ranging from pond fish, pet birds and chickens, rabbits, dogs, horses, camels, sheep and cows. The use of pollen as feed for managed honey bee colonies was identified, but rarely in commercial products due to the potential risk of spreading bee diseases. Significant quantities of frozen pollen were found necessary for the rearing of bumble bee colonies, which are marketed on an industrial scale for pollination. Bumble bee production is the only niche market where large amounts of pollen are specifically used as feed. Feed products for vertebrates tend to be generated from the same stock as pollen‐based products for human consumption. This niche market is very fragmented. Any beekeeper can produce and market a pollen‐based product. Only a few large specialized producers have been identified both in and outside the EU. The ratio between food and feed use of pollen is unknown in most cases. A notable exception is feed for bumble bee colonies, which may account for half of the pollen produced and imported in the EU. Products for other animals (vertebrates) are unlikely to represent more than 5% of the market. The customs classification for pollen does not allow for a clear distinction between food and feed and no statistics are being systematically stored and maintained.