Q1. Can you briefly describe the history of Novus and its business?
François Fraudeau: Novus was born in 1991 and at the time we were solely producing ALIMET® feed supplement, or HMTBa, a methionine hydroxy analogue. Over the next 15 years we focused on bringing this product to animal protein producers around the world. Then, little over a decade ago,we saw an opportunity to diversify our product offerings through both in-house innovations and acquisitions and now we sell around 160 products worldwide. It has taken us 28 years but today we are the largest feed additive producer in the United States. We have a comprehensive portfolio of products that include liquid and dry methionine, chelated trace minerals, organic acids, enzymes, essential oils, pigments, feed preservatives and stabilizers, and feed hygiene and health solutions.
Specifically concerning India, in 2009, I asked Dr. Vaibhav Nagpal to develop a business plan for the country. From there we began to offer products to the poultry industry and then later expanded our footprint in dairy and aquaculture markets. As those markets have grown in the country, so has our team in India. This new office is a very clear indication of Novus’s commitment to serve producers here in every capacity that we are able.
Q2. Can you explain why your products are so tempting for India- and South Asian-specific markets?
François Fraudeau: What we are trying to do as part of our company mission is to be physically close to our customers. Our headquarters is in the United States but we have offices in over 30 countries so as to better understand our customer’s challenges and more easily deliver solutions that help our customers in a sustainable way.
When I started my carrier in 1988, the goal of every customer was to increase production. That isn’t the case any longer. Yes, optimizing production is still important but now customers think about biosecurity, food safety, animal welfare, and environmental factors. And the importance of these additional concerns varies from place to place.
It’s our job to bring solutions to our customers. For India, a big part of that is supplying enzymes that can boost the value of raw feed material. Enzymes enhance the value of crops produced in India. Also, we sell a lot of organic trace minerals in India because our producthas been demonstrated in studies to help strengthen eggshell quality. Research has also shown that MINTREX® trace minerals,can reduce the incidents of skin lesions, footpad dermatitis and wooden/woody breast, which are challenges for Indian producers due to the wet market.
Dave Dowell added:Novus also brings considerable application knowledge to our customers. Our team in India is very skilled in this area. Because each productis different, and each challenge varies from farm to farm, it’s important that our technical service professionals can effectively train customers on the best application of our product. Our customers may be using our products for the first time,or they may not know how to use it in combination with other additives in the ration. Wecan help guide customers, answer their questions and bring in experts from our global technical services and R&D teams, as needed.
Dr. Vaibhav Nagpal added:When we came to this market, Novus teamed up with universities and colleges like Bombay Veterinary College, Namakkal and Nagpur veterinary colleges. We sponsored the studies of the students and we conducted our own studies for almost three years to really learn the value we can bring to customers in India. That investigation and planning helped us to really understand how our products could work in this part of the world. So, we greatly understandhow our products work in local conditions and help to address customer pains.
Q3: Poultry is playing a major role in India and India is having vast potential as well as protein concerns. Major concerns are biosecurity and feed. To eliminate diseases, what are the plans to expand the business and products so that India can step ahead?
François Fraudeau: We must use technology if we are going to be able to provide enough quality food, safely and inexpensively, for the growing world population. Producers must use feed additive technology to optimize immune response,bone strength and nutritional availability of feed. We simply cannot feed the world without technology.
Scott Hine added:We work with our customers to solve their problems. Whether the problems are with meat quality, biosecurity, gut health, or mortality rates of the animals, we are always looking at more effective ways to support health through nutrition.
An added benefit of being a global company so close to our customers is that we’re able to see what works in one place and duplicate that success elsewhere. It gives us a different perspective, and through that new vision we can develop new products and solutions for the customer.
Q4: What are the factors for growth of Novus?
François Fraudeau: The number one factor is the growing population, the second is the growingeconomy. That’s the story of India and it’s the story globally. Poultry production is increasing 10% every year, there’s a growing population here and household incomes are increasing. These factors are very important because they trigger investment.
We have the advantage of being able to predict with some accuracy the number of people on the planet next year and well beyond that. We can predict how much chicken and eggs will be eaten based on trends year over year. This information is very important and very helpful to a feed additive company like Novus. It tells us where to invest our research, which markets to invest in and which products to put in the market.
Q5: Do you have any products for antibiotic-free usage?
François Fraudeau: For us, antibiotic-free production is not new, we’ve been supporting it for the last 15 years in Europe. We’ve expanded our solutions to other countries like Thailand and Brazil that export meat to Europe where antibiotic-free is becoming the norm due to stringent regulations.
Antibiotic-free is possible but there is a lot of thought and planning that must happen before a farm makes the switch. You must consider the environmental factors on the farm as well as external factors like feed quality.
Scott Hine added:For example, we provide protected organic acids (AVIMATRIX®)to help gut heath, which is one part of the solution. We also provide essential oils (NEXT ENHANCE® 150), which is another part. Our technical teamunderstands the environmental and hygiene factors and knowthe mode of action of our products so they can develop a comprehensive antibiotic-free program for customers.
Dr. Vaibhav Nagpal added:Our products are just a part of the whole solution. We need to look at the biosecurity system, the farm management systems, we need to look at the feed; even the types of raw materials, the particle sizes, the pelleting temperature, how the feed mills are managed, the transportation systems. These are all the pieces that go into developing an antibiotic-free program. Sometimes customers just ask for the products and we supply them with mode of action details, but they may not work effectively if other factors have not been properly addressed.
We have expertise in Europe and now we are working to bring those Novus representatives and their knowledge to India to connect with the customers on their farms, conduct a thorough audit of their production systems and develop recommendations based on that.
Q6: Novus office was in Chennai for a long time, now with the opening of new and bigger office to better serve the need of South Asian countries as well as India,you should have some future plans, so what are they?
Dave Dowell:Our first office in India was in Bangalore then we moved to Hyderabad and then to Chennai in 2009.
With this new office, we are continuing to expand the team so that we can better serve our growing customer base. The sales, marketing, and technical service teams are adding positions and we have new products to introduce to the market in the enzymeblends space. I am very excited about the growth we have experienced in India and the future growth potential we see. Novus will continue to invest in the region and bring new technology to our customers there.
Q7: What are the prospects of Novus products used for dairy production in India? Being dairy is an unorganized structure how we can educate the farmers related to dairy?
Dr. Vaibhav Nagpal:We definitely work with the customers to show them how our products are effective on a nutritional level. For instance, ourALIMET® and MHA®methionine products optimize animalhealth and milk fat yield. We have MINTREX®, which supports reproductive performance, and has been shown in studies to help reduce lameness and hoof problems. We have essential oil products that play a big role in optimizingproductivity. So, we have many products but the challenge is how do we reach dairy farmersbecause the Indian dairy market is so fragmented? Our approach is to invest in channel partners. We have identified a few companies to collaborate with and now they are helping us identify and reach those potential customers. These partnerships are important for us to reach out to the dairy industry in India so that we can educate the farmers and nutrition through our channel partners.
Q8:Aquaculture in India is far behind when compare to other countries and production is not up to the mark. So how do your products help to increase production and add value?
François Fraudeau: The great advantage with aquaculture is that everyone can eat the product, so there is a drive to be in this industry. But it can be an expensive enterprise. For those who produce in ponds, the cost of land in India is a huge investment. Beyond that, the risk of disease is very high in an open body of water. So, we look at our products and contemplate what species-specific solutions can be offered to the producer who is just trying to keep their fish or shrimp alive.
Q9: Where do you see Novus in next ten years?
François Fraudeau: Beyond this recent expansion in India, our next expansion will be in Africa. The population there is growing but they don’t have many quality raw materials and the industry is still developing there in terms of processes and infrastructure.
At a global level, we willcontinueon our path to help feed the world but we mustalso accelerate the pace of innovation because the consumer is changing very quickly and regulations are also changing very quickly.
All told, the animal production industry moves very slowly where innovation is concerned. We must consider that the population is growing and that farmers are being asking to produce more high-quality animal protein on less land with less environmental impact for an end product that is still affordable. The feed additive industry can help, but we need to innovate quickly. The pace at which we will be able to address these challenges will determine our success.
Scott Hine added:For Novus to meet innovation goals, we continue to identify technology partners. For instance, we work closely with well-known genetics partners to develop nutrition solutions that will help address wooden/woody breast at the commercial customer level. We have been very successful in this, globally.We also know there are companies that we can work with synergistically to develop application solutions for customers. So, if we go back to the question of what’s the unique proposition of selling Novus, the breadth of the products and the ability to apply solutions at the customer level is something that is very unique. In addition, as we learn about modes of action through research and development, we look for new technologies and partners that can provide the tools to help us help our customers and do what we do even better.
Q10: Where do you see the livestock industry in Indiain the next ten years?
Neeraj Kumar Srivastava:There are three factors to consider: the availability of animal protein, the demand for animal protein, the affordability of animal protein. Theseare critical factors. If we look at population growth, 380 million people are projected to move toward the middle-class group in India in the next 10 years. As you can imaginethe protein requirement of this country in coming five to ten years is going to be enormous. The cheapest source of protein will be chicken and eggs and India has huge potential to grow itschicken and egg production to meet the protein demand of the country. We are not looking for the export market to meet the domestic demand. I see the livestock industry in India as very attractive, very lucrative and one of the fastest growing in the world.
Q11: What are the new products in pipeline?
Scott Hine:If you look at our different product platforms, our methionine platform is consistent, and we see our opportunities in the Indian dairy industry to expand that business.We are also launching our CIBENZA® PHYTAVERSE® phytase enzyme globally and are rolling out CIBENZA® EP150, a protease combined with a probiotic that allows for a guaranteed level of spores in the product, to help support gut health.We are also looking at the opportunities in India for our antibiotic-free solutionsas well as our eubiotics products.
Neeraj Kumar Srivastava added:We also just launched a proteinate organic trace mineral in the country and that was a massive success. We are looking to take that product beyond the region.
Q12: Anything Novus is doing in terms of digitalization and artificial intelligence?
Scott Hine:We believe there is a huge opportunity in “big data”. We started in this area years ago with our C.O.W.S.® ruminant performance assessment program. In the end, however, it really comes down to analysis and comparative analysis, which is our area of expertise in terms of R&D and application of that knowledge. Working closely with our customers is extremely important to us as we helpprovide unique solutionsto their unique problems. What we are doing with the C.O.W.S.® program is monitoring and recording their behavior then taking that data and analyzing it.Then we work with professional dairy nutritionists and people who have good experience with cattle to identify what could be done differently to increase that cow’s comfort and ultimately its productivity.This is not a new program and we have seen that when a producer uses the recommendations that come out of the analysis, they see a significant lift in production.