Aidan Connolly-Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President of Corporate Accounts, is involved with Alltech’s innovation pipeline and lead the commercialization of the company’s research programs. He is well-known as the architect of Alltech’s annual global feed survey, which assesses global feed tonnage in more than 130 countries. In an e-interview with Think Grain Think Feed, he discusses about opportunities and challenges in Feed additive industry, changes observed in Indian market and much more.
First of all, on behalf of Think Grain Think Feed, we would like to congratulate you for the successful conduct of the recently concluded ONE 17-Alltech Ideas conference. Could you please share 3 key takeaways from the 33rd edition.
3 takeaways from the ONE
Animal nutrition is being disrupted, particularly by digital technology.
The model for companies to innovate is also changing and being driven increasingly by start ups
The recommendations from people such as Peter Diamandis is that companies need to consider what they would do to increase the size of their business by 10 times and not simply by 1 or 2.
According to the recent Alltech’s annual Global Feed Survey-the bellwether of Global Economy, some glaring changes have been observed in the global feed sector. Could you please elaborate on those trends?
The 2017 Alltech Global Feed Survey was our most comprehensive survey to date. We collated more information on more species from more countries, making it our most robust and accurate.
The biggest headline of this year’s feed survey was that feed production exceeded 1 billion tonnes for the first time ever. Remarkably, this was done with fewer feed mills. The number of feedmills dropped by 7%, even though the overall tonnage increased by almost 4%.
Global feed growth continues to grow by approx. 2% per year, with aquaculture as a strong standout. We have not seen as much growth in the tonnage of pets and horses, although the price per tonne means that the value of those areas continues to be very important. We have also found that Africa has been growing strongly as a region.
Could you please tell us the major trends that have disrupted the feed additive industry? Also please educate us as what kind of opportunities and challenges does Alltech find around the globe in this particular industry?
In terms of feed additives, the focus needs to be on the things that are of most concern.
Alltech has put a lot of time and effort into areas of mycotoxins, mineral nutrition and antibiotic free production. However, we also put an emphasis on identifying opportunities we think will be important in the future.
Environmental issues in China have been a focus; meat quality in the U.S. – particularly with respect to broilers but also beef and pork are very critical. We feel these are part of the future direction of the feed additive industry as people have raised issues and challenges that perhaps they have not talked about in the past.
What opportunities do you see in the growth of feed additive industry, as far as India is concerned and the changes that are observed in the market over Antibiotic usage? What would the feed industry look like by 2020?
We have a very positive outlook on India. There is a tremendous opportunity with continued growth in the population and the conversion of more and more people who have an increase in income and thus greater choice as to where their protein comes from, to consuming that from animal sources.
Clearly this favours milk and eggs more than meat in general, although we have seen good increases in chicken production over the last five years. India today is one of the largest countries, being number six in overall feed production with just over 31m tonnes. Last year we did see a drop in broiler feed production but a continued increase in dairy feed production. Our perspective, therefore, is that India will continue to grow and certainly should surpass Spain and perhaps Mexico in next year’s Alltech Global Feed Survey, which would take it up to number four overall.
The Indian industry is slowly changing their perspective and the way they use Antibiotics
Globally we have found that customers are increasingly embracing the concept of “seed, feed and weed”, something which has been pioneered by Alltech. It’s not a single product approach but a program approach to gut health and the replacement of sub-therapeutic growth promotants.
Our readers shall be keen to know as what kind of innovations have been introduced by Alltech in recent times to tackle the challenges faced by the Feed Industry?
Alltech continues to be a leading producer of natural feed ingredients for animal nutrition and our presence is strengthening through acquisitions we have made in the premix and speciality feed sectors.
We believe that the innovations we have introduced, such as the total replacement of minerals, the measurement of 38 mycotoxins in feed, the development of programs to replace antibiotic growth promotants and focus on improving meat quality, have all been areas which are of tremendous interest to our customers. In addition, we have been very pleased by the developments that have come from the Pearse Lyons Accelerator featuring the world’s top ag and food technology startups. This has allowed us access to some areas that we have not previously been involved with, including robots, drones, artificial intelligence, the use of sensors. These technologies clearly provide the potential for customers to improve their productivity and profitability.
Lastly, as how does the outside world looks at India as the emerging market for the feed industry?
India has traditionally been viewed as a marketplace that has not been at the forefront of new technology. Even China has received, in my view, innovations faster than India. However, this is changing as companies have typically arrived into the marketplace with technologies long after they have used or launched them in other locations.
In the last three years in particular, this has changed. I think the Alltech Global Feed Survey has been part of awakening people to the reality that animal protein consumption in India continues to grow. It is being supported by an increasingly sophisticated animal production system and this sophistication continues to improve and technify as the business moves forward. I believe Indian companies have been embracing technologies even faster than the global average in some cases. In fact, we have used experiences in India as an example to other countries of the benefits that can be achieved when Alltech’s technologies are in the feed.