Jan Michael Bätjer, business unit manager, at the Hamburg headquartered supplier told us about the plans the company has to expand in the direction of the farmed fish production sector when we caught up with him at EuroTier last week.
“While we have been selling into the aqua industry for many years, we have never really focused on [that sector]."
Berg + Schmidt now wants to up its game in terms of supplying ingredients for aqua feed, he said.
“We have a production facility for deoiled lecithins in Singapore, and, from there, we supply the Asian shrimp industry. This goes to Thailand, and other markets. India is also a big market for us, as is Egypt. In Europe, in warm-water fish, we have a good business as well [in terms of deoiled lecithins].
“While the aqua business is not really our strength, it is a growing market, and we would like to participate [in a bigger way], and we think, beyond lecithins, there is good potential with monoglyericdes, for example.”
The company, he said, has just done a trial in shrimp in Thailand with a product that is a blend of different medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), glycerol monolaurate from lauric acid, monolaurates from C8-C10, and butyric acid:
“It showed very good results, we are quite happy to proceed with this product and to build some kind of concept on it. We have contacts in Mexico and also in India who also want to trial this product in shrimp again."
Berg + Schmidt, he said, has started to work with fish feed consultants, experts with many years’ experience – one such specialist that the company is currently liaising with is Wolfgang Koppe, who for 25 years headed up R&D at leading fish feed player, Skretting.
“He knows aqua in and out. He is trying to guide us through the whole world of aquaculture, where we have to be present, what markets we have to go to, who to talk to, and who are the main nutritionists.”
The company has different strategies in terms of expansion in aquaculture. While it intends to focus on salmon, shrimp, tilapia, and carp, it is also targeting feed for Mediterranean fish species.
In terms of salmon feed, Bätjer said Berg + Schmidt has started to engage with Biomar, Marine Harvest and Skretting.
“We are trying to establish some kind of collaboration with them.
“However, we would also like to go to smaller and medium size producers of fish feed. There are many in Italy, Greece, France and the Netherlands and so this is the next step.”
New amino acid coating plant
Meanwhile, in an innovation push on the manufacturing side, the company has capitalized on its expertise in fats and oils to establish a new coating unit at its existing facility in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, said Bätjer.
Berg + Schmidt’s main fat powder production hub is located in there; it has output in the region of 80-100,000 tons per year. The company distributes fat powders for the dairy and monogastrics sectors worldwide from that location.
“While we are expanding in terms of volumes of fat powders and warehousing, we also wanted to [leverage] our good strength in dairy, to expand the portfolio and to also support our customer needs, so we decided to build a coating plant, using fluid bed technology.”
The facility is designed to coat amino acids and vitamins. The company said the use of coated amino acids makes it possible to boost milk yield; it said, by enabling efficient nutrient conversion, such coated materials can also help to save on feed and promote the animals’ metabolism.
“First we will focus on dairy, we will start with coating amino acids like methionine and lysine, and then we would like to develop production step by step, maybe also produce for monogastrics.
“The plant was just constructed. It is coming on stream in the coming weeks. Next year, we are going to start promoting these kind of products. It is a good fit for us; the customers will be the same ones that use our fat powders," said Bätjer.
Berg + Schmidt saw a gap in the market in relation to coated amino acid products. While there are many available on the market often the quality often is not there, he said.
“Either they have a high-loading value but not great rumen stability or bioavailability. So we have tried to use our know-how in rumen stability to use the right fat and coating to really make the amino acid as available for the cow as possible.”
“I think this is a growing market. Knowledge about fats and amino acids has grown. When you go to big farms, in the US, they know about how to feed their animals and balance their feed, but even when you go to smaller markets, like in eastern Germany, say a farm with 2,000 cows, you see the expertise of the farm manager and the nutritionists is much higher than in was in the past.
“Even, in China, my colleagues tell me [nutritionists and farm managers there] know what they want and they are very knowledgeable. So because of that, this market will grow.”