“We see the animal health and nutrition area as a space where there is still room for innovation,” said Susanne Palsten, Novozymes’ VP for animal health and nutrition commercial.
The Danish company has a number of animal nutrition alliances, from its long standing partnership with DSM on enzymes to its collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, which is focused on developing probiotic products for use at the hatchery level.
Novozymes is now busy building a joint pipeline of future bacillus based probiotics for poultry and swine with Adisseo, she said.
“Our business model is that we reinvest 13% of our revenue back into R&D, and we have been doing that consistently over time. Regardless of the results, we believe that investment in innovation and science is what is going to drive long term growth.”
The shift in antibiotic free meat production is happening faster than anyone predicted, and in order to make that move farmers need tools that are safe and reliable and give them consistent performance, she added. “That is where we see we can play a role.”
“On the probiotics side, we are a latecomer. We are in catch-up mode. We won’t claim that we are a leader in that space yet. But I think what we have proven with Alterion that, based on us having the world’s largest collection of microbes, we are able to find the specific bacteria - in that case, a Bacillus - that can enhance performance in poultry.”
Cracking the code
Another critical aspect of Novozymes business model is its ongonig hunt for new microbes, with people travelling the world and adding to its strain library, said Palsten.
“We have a lot of investment going into better understanding of the microbiome, into determining what is the bacterial composition of a healthy animal versus a challenged animal, what are the regional differences that we see in poultry and swine, etc. and how can that explain performance. I don’t think anybody yet has figured out the right correlation. Those who crack that code, and we are working on it as well, will be the ones that come up with the really innovative products.
“[When sourcing strains], we look to see what are the characteristics that enzymes or microbes need to have. We have a wide variety of sources. Sometimes we throw in wild cards and that is a big part of our screening engine. We are using the latest, most advance high throughput screening methods [to achieve greater diversity].
“In essence, we are trying to replicate that which nature has already figured out. For example, if you are looking at something that needs to go into feed, it also has to survive at high temperatures, so maybe looking for diversity in volcanoes could be effective. Or if something has to be acid stable, you can look at acid with low pH or high pH environments.
“It is not always sourcing microbes from a healthy chicken that results in the best performing strain.”
EU market approval
EU registration for Alterion is an important milestone and a global benchmark, said Palsten.
“The EU was the last standing bastion for us to conquer, and that is now what we have the approval to go ahead and do. We have high expectations for the EU market even though it is a diverse one with different needs. We have seen that Alterion works consistently across the different geographies and no matter what the farming practice is.”
The launch program for that probiotic in Europe has got underway, and involves, in part, an education drive.
“We are having four launch events over the next few months in the EU 28. In collaboration with Adisseo, we will invite customers to clinics so that can see directly what the effect is of applying Alterion to the diet of birds.”
The company has had very strong traction with that probiotic in the regions in which it was first registered, specifically Middle East, APAC and in North America, she said. It is also now seeing growth in markets where approval came later such as in Brazil and in China.
“The feedback we are getting is that farmers are seeing consistent results with Alterion.”
Probiotic product pipeline
In terms of its future work in its alliance with Adisseo, a second generation poultry probiotic is on the horizon, she said.
The partners also have a raft of projects aimed at both the poultry and pig sector, trying to solve major industry challenges with Bacillus technology, she continued.
“We have a vast diversity of Bacillus strains in our collection so we have a great starting point in terms of having strains already characterized and mapped to tackle some of these issues.”
The market is already flooded with probiotics, but there has been little innovation in the space in the past 10 years, she claimed. There is room for new products, said the Novozymes representative.
“If you look at a lot of the solutions that are out there today, they have not been designed and engineered specifically for a poultry issue or a swine issue. They are things that have been thrown over the fence or ones that are based on old technologies.”