[INTERVIEW] BIOMIN Sees Bright Future Ahead for the Phytogenic Feed Additive Space

Michael Noonan Global Product Manager Phytogenics BIOMINFeedinfo News Service spoke to Michael Noonan, Global Product Manager Phytogenics at BIOMIN, about the future of PFA use and his expectations for Biomin’s own Digestarom range of PFAs.

[Feedinfo News Service] Mr. Noonan, what are the main findings of the March 2017 BIOMIN Phytogenic Feed Additive survey?

[Michael Noonan] We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the response. Collecting the input of 1,140 agribusiness professionals located in over 100 countries makes this the first survey of its kind at this scale. A majority of the participants are early-adopters of PFAs—67% have experience with phytogenic feed additives and three-quarters of those currently apply PFAs. This level of experience makes their views on the benefits of PFAs even more valuable, and potentially instructive to the one-third who have not used them.

Overall, digestibility enhancement ranked as the number one reason that the livestock industry uses phytogenic feed additives, followed by their perceived antimicrobial effects, their use within an AGP replacement strategy and growth promotion. Geographically, we observed a split. Those in the Western Hemisphere selected the antimicrobial effects as their top motivation, while elsewhere digestibility was most often cited.

The survey also examined reasons that respondents do not use PFAs. What stood out is that awareness of phytogenic feed additives was not a major issue. Though some respondents did say that they are not familiar with PFA application in livestock, most respondents recognized the product category and raised more technical issues regarding scientific and commercial trial data, product selection and return on investment. This indicates more serious consideration of PFAs that reflects the growing interest we see throughout the world.

[Feedinfo News Service] BIOMIN claims PFAs are applied to approximately 5% of the 1.2 billion tons of feed used worldwide today and it sees the market rising four-fold by 2030. What are the main drivers of this growth?

[Michael Noonan] A host of factors are expected to bolster the uptake of phytogenic feed additives. This is now a very exciting time for PFAs. The current market size is more than USD 500 million per year and growing. Our estimates predict that the market could double every 6 to 7 years reaching USD 1 billion annually by 2023, and USD 2 billion by 2030. Market forces in animal production are already having a positive impact. The move to reduce antibiotics and the corresponding focus on improving gut health have clearly intensified in recent years. Retailers and supermarkets have aligned their policies to match a clear shift in consumer demand. Similarly, producers want to meet the requirements of export markets. Additionally, food safety, animal health, welfare and environmental issues play a role.

Alongside market forces, scientific progress and attitudinal shifts will drive the PFA market. Decades of research and development have made PFAs a useful tool in modern livestock production. These are highly sophisticated, field-tested solutions backed by science. At the BIOMIN Research Center, where we have 30 years’ worth of proprietary research in the field of phytogenics, we employ next-generation gene sequencing, bioinformatics and other advanced technologies to improve our understanding of the effects in animals, and then translate those into customer benefits. Those results continue to bear fruit. Our Digestarom® product line has a documented mode of action. A meta-analysis of 14 commercial broiler trials shows that Digestarom® delivers a 5-point FCR improvement over AGPs and a 39-gram improvement in final weight.

[Feedinfo News Service] How strongly do you expect the Digestarom range to feature in your 2030 predictions?

[Michael Noonan] We see Digestarom® becoming the top PFA in terms of sales ahead of that timeframe, based on historic success and the investments that we are making in terms of R&D and customer support. Our current trajectory is promising. We have double digit growth in sales of PFAs, and we have a strong foundation for future growth, with BIOMIN products commercialized in more than 100 countries. Digestarom® is already one of the leading brands in the PFA space, with a proven track record that stretches back more than two decades. At a company level, BIOMIN has a robust R&D rate at 6%, and a sizeable portion of that is dedicated to phytogenics. Our ambition to become market leader encompasses both commercial and scientific domains.

[Feedinfo News Service] How does encapsulation technology ensure a more optimized delivery of essential oil actives?

[Michael Noonan] In the food and feed industry, encapsulation commonly serves to protect flavors from oxidation, to increase a product’s shelf-life and to provide controlled release of substances over a period of time. While numerous phytogenic compounds are known to have benefits for feed and livestock, various phytogenic compounds exert different properties. Essential oils and their active compounds in particular are highly volatile and heat sensitive—less than ideal characteristics in the context of modern feed production processes. The challenge is to make sure that substances that have a shorter shelf-life or can be broken down in the digestive tract before they exert their biological active properties on animals are instead delivered where they are needed to have a positive effect. The new Biomin® Duplex Capsule technology achieves this according to a design that has never before been seen in the PFA space.

[Feedinfo News Service] In which ways is Biomin® Duplex Capsule a breakthrough technology when compared to existing encapsulation technologies?

[Michael Noonan] There is nothing like it in the phytogenic space today. The Biomin® Duplex Capsule in Digestarom® DC is a proprietary technology that combines two encapsulation techniques –matrix and core-shell encapsulation– to deliver a triple-action formulation.

With core-shell encapsulation, a protective coat surrounds a core comprising essential oils and active compounds, providing better product stability and ensuring targeted release further along in the gastrointestinal tract. In Digestarom® DC, the coat and core contain different essential oils for appetizing and gut modulation modules, respectively. Both layers are matrix encapsulated —meaning that the active compounds are finely dispersed in a solidified matrix— providing slow, controlled release. In addition, the extracts and herb module supports gut protection. As a result, the Biomin® Duplex Capsule in Digestarom® DC offers several key benefits: higher essential oil content, homogeneous distribution of essential oils in feed, better pelleting stability and continuous targeted delivery of active substances in animals in the small intestine.

[Feedinfo News Service] At VIV Asia 2017 you launched an advanced formulation of Digestarom® DC. In which ways does the new form differ from the previous version?

[Michael Noonan] The Biomin® Duplex Capsule in Digestarom® DC, with its triple-action formulation, marks a clear innovation in the Digestarom® line. The three modules –1) appetizing and endogenous secretions, 2) gut microbiota modulation, 3) gut protection– have a clear and documented mode of action. Customers already familiar with our species-specific Digestarom® solutions and the multi-species Digestarom® P.E.P. line will find that Digestarom® DC offers the best of both. Digestarom® DC aims to deliver three key benefits: improved feed intake, better performance and optimized feed conversion.

[Feedinfo News Service] In which animal species fed Digestarom® DC/Biomin® Duplex Capsule are you noticing the best performances?

[Michael Noonan] Our initial focus is on poultry and swine at this stage, as we introduce Digestarom® DC across the globe. Based on feeding trials conducted this far, we have seen positive results in broilers and piglets in terms of weight gain and FCR improvement, with further trials currently ongoing that show similarly positive signs. For ruminants and aquaculture, we currently offer a complete portfolio of phytogenic products, and we have a development program in place to bring Digestarom® DC to these sectors at a later date in line with our expanding R&D efforts.

[Feedinfo News Service] Where will Digestarom® DC be initially rolled-out? What are your expectations for the remainder of 2017?

[Michael Noonan] We have already begun a global rollout, starting with Asia and will continue with trials to support clients throughout the world. Through our booth at VIV Asia and our “Phytogenics in Focus” side conference, we were able to showcase our expertise in phytogenics. We have offices and valued distributors throughout Asia and we intend to carry on the momentum through local campaigns. Further on, we will introduce Digestarom® DC in the Western Hemisphere, beginning with several South American markets. Also in 2017, we will submit EU dossiers to achieve registration as a zootechnical feed additive for poultry and swine. This reflects our belief in the merits of and science backing Digestarom® DC, and will be a crucial step in further advancing our presence in European markets.

[Feedinfo News Service] BIOMIN projects double digit growth in PFA sales until 2020. Accordingly, the company will double phytogenics production capacity in the coming years. Can you provide some specifics?

[Michael Noonan] Our significant in-house production facilities for Digestarom® DC are seated in Europe, and we have more than sufficient capacity to meet growing global demand. Achieving strong growth will require providing clients with consistent, high value products that they have come to expect from BIOMIN. Our long-term roadmap contains resource commitments to further build out R&D and production for phytogenics in the coming years, and we will keep you appraised through announcements along the way.

This interview was first published on www.feedinfo.com.