Agrivida rolling out new corn-based phytase into US poultry segment

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/stevanovicigor
© GettyImages/stevanovicigor
Agrivida, the Massachusetts-based biotechnology startup, announced last week that it was making its enzyme-expressing corn feed ingredient, Grainzyme Phytase, available to the US poultry market.

The novel phytase feed additive product is available now, said Dan Meagher, CEO with Agrivida.

Grainzyme ​Phytase corn is grown, milled, and then provided for inclusion in animal feed; it is designed to replace a fraction of the traditional corn that producers already feed their flocks, said the developer. The functional benefits of enzymes are built right into the grain, added the biotech company.

Agrivida has partnered with Kerry Animal Health and Nutrition in terms of the distribution of the new product, said Meagher. Collaboration with that global company brings many benefits to Agrivida, said the CEO.

“We are still small and grounded in the R&D,”​ said Meagher. “We don’t have the boots on the ground like an organization like Kerry does.”

The initial market focus is for poultry producers in the US, he said. However, that is set to expand in the future as the company has an interest in working with producers in other markets around the globe, said the CEO.

Return on investment

After getting the permits from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to grow corn that expresses phytase, the company got approval through the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the US Center for Veterinary Medicine to use the product in poultry diets.

The company was initially founded with the goal of expressing enzymes in corn for biofuel, but pivoted to focus on providing a feed additive for the monogastric market, said Meagher.

The enzyme is expressed in corn that can be ground, mixed into a feed and is able to survive the pelleting process, said Meagher. It also can be used to provide a higher level of phytase than is commonly used in poultry diets, enabling producers to increase their return on investment by improving bird performance.

“We’ve seen some significant results and return on investment on average daily gain and body weight in broilers by feeding Grainzyme,” ​he told FeedNavigator.

Some adjustments to the feed ration have to be made, he said. 

"But the concept of delivering it in corn has been received very well.”

In feeding trials looking, there has been a return of about $10-15 per ton of feed in value to the producer, he said. In some studies, the return has been as high as $20-30.

In addition to refining the expression of the phytase and improving corn plant yields per acre, the company is also working on growing corn that generates other feed targeting enzymes - to start with, a multifunctional NSP enzyme, said the CEO.

To swine and beyond

The company is waiting for approval for use of the corn phytase product with swine, said Meagher.

“We have a review dossier to get swine approved here hopefully in the first quarter of 2019,” ​he told us. “We’ve done the animal trials on the pigs and proved it is safe.”

The company is also looking to expand the use of the feed additives beyond the monogastric production areas, he said.

“We think it will have value in the ruminants [segment] as well.”

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