Jean Fontaine is the founder and president of Jefo, a global feed additive company headquartered in Canada. Under his leadership, this year the company is celebrating 35 years of global growth and innovation.
Jefo is a world leader in the field of non-medicated performance feed additives for the poultry, swine, ruminant and aquaculture sectors. Today the company has offices on 5 continents, and specialises in the design, manufacturing, warehousing and JIT-distribution of an array of animal nutrition specialty products.
It was a visit to Europe that propelled Fontaine into launching his own feed additive business. After working for a premix company post-graduation from university, he took a trip on his own to investigate the additives scenes in Belgium, France, Holland and Germany. A visit to premix company, Sodial, in France was particularly important. “When I realised the price difference between feed additives in Europe and Canada, I quickly realised there was a huge opportunity. I was very excited, but I needed to find a way to get some capital to start importing some products. My brother Michel was of great help. He endorsed me for CAN$ 20,000. He had a veterinary clinic and laboratory.”
In particular, Mr Fontaine noticed a large cost difference between Europe and Canada on phosphates and bicarbonate, and he started to import these ingredients, competing with established suppliers. “I wanted to help the Canadian feed manufacturers and premixers to be more competitive,” he says. “Having worked for the premix company as a buyer and nutritionist, I was quite knowledgeable about selecting ingredients. Having a degree in nutrition always allowed me to choose the right additive with good judgement.”
After starting Jefo in 1982 and receiving very positive customer feedback, Mr Fontaine started to look for many more alternatives to products being offered by competing suppliers. “I opened our borders for sourcing ingredients. In 1987, we started to promote the concept of slow-release nutrients like amino acids, essential oils, and ‘bypass’ amino acids and vitamins for dairy.”
Firstly, on behalf of Think Grain Think Feed, I would like to congratulate you for the 35th anniversary of the company. Could you please share your thoughts about the company history and how you have seen the global feed industry evolving over last decade?
JEFO has grown over any expectation. The need did not seem necessary by any industry people, initially. We forged our place and today, it is well recognized that JEFO and its philosophy of putting closer suppliers and customers was needed indeed.
The last 25 years for JEFO doing so much research and breakthrough discovery in nutrition, allowed JEFO to become a leader in the feed additive to replace drugs in feed and protect the environment.
Could you please share the challenges that are being faced by Global livestock industry, the theme around which discussions took place during last year’s Industry Stakeholders’ Gathering organized by the company?
The first Challenge we face is to do more with less. Improve nutrition effectiveness with always keeping the health as a parallel is very important to maintain in permanence. The other main challenge I see, is the change in the market demand. Consumers are driven by media and they request specific norms that impose more challenges to the animal feed industry.
In your view, what are the key trends which you believe may have a big impact on the feed additives industry moving forward?
Understanding the behaviour of the micro flora in the intestine of the animals, all bacterias have a consumption of vitamins, amino acids, energy for their growth and they produce toxines or other metabolic excretions that are beneficial and negative to the animal.
It is our task to understand and master these micro organism.
Can you please throw some light on regulatory changes and their implications upon the Global feed industry?
All regulatory changes are established to protect the consumers for a quality food. Any regulation is requested to control the promises made by the suppliers of food to the human. However, the labeling requirements have been changing dramatically in the last few years, and this may pose a major problem for the competitive advantages of companies working on innovating concepts. Some countries now require a complete guaranteed analysis of all ingredients. Companies now need to, in addition to a good formulation, proprietary production processes to guarantee their competitiveness in the market.
How do you compare Asian market to developed market? Where does India stand on the company radar?
ASIA is evolving fast. there is a lot of researchers and a lot of consumers. They can try more and more new concept faster than we can in Canada for example. We need to work with them closely for innovation. India has the same attitude: curiosity and innovation.
According to Markets & Markets report, feed enzyme market growing at a rate of 9.3% CAGR, is expected to reach USD 1428 Million by 2022. Your comment. What is the species wise market share of Jefo Group and also its strength which give the company an edge over its competitors?
IT is all with the aim to do more with less. For example in dairy cows, 5% better feed conversion will mean approx. 500,000 tons of manure less/year for 1 million cows… Enzyme is the future and their efficacy has to be monitored. JEFO with their research station are very actively developping solutions that will improve the efficacy of feeds.
What does Jefo look like in 10 years from now in global and Indian market?
INDIA is now in the target zone. We are making inroads to choose the right partner there and share with them our discoveries.
It is a huge market and they need better efficacy in nutrition of their chickens and dairy.