The animal nutrition specialist would look to also develop a similar product in China to its industrially coated probiotic feed supporting L. vannamei shrimp production, Vanalis Pro, which is manufactured in Vietnam and was launched in certain markets in Southeast Asia last year.
“The Chinese market is one of our next targets, but a coated probiotic feed product such as Vanalis Pro would have to be tailored to local shrimp requirements,” said Marc Campet, ADM Aquaculture Business Development Director in Asia.
The agribusiness giant is increasingly focused on the aquaculture segment in terms of its growth strategy for animal nutrition in Asia, and Ocialis functional shrimp and fish feeds will comprise a major part of that expansion effort. The company anticipates releasing two to three new products under its Life Defense category in the next 12 months, added Campet.
India is not a target market for the company’s functional feed business right now though: “The shrimp feed market in India is highly competitive, and farmers there have had a difficult season due to the impact of both the COVID-19 pandemic and pathogenic load. We also currently don’t have production capacity for functional shrimp feed there and exporting from our Vietnamese base to India would not make sense.”
Tailoring feeds to local conditions
To be really effective, functional feeds and the corresponding consultation services the company offers to farmers, must be tailored to the specific industrial and environmental conditions of any given shrimp market, noted Christophe Blondet, VP of Product Development & Applications, Animal Nutrition, ADM, when talking about the company’s expansion plans.
“Shrimp production is very diverse in Asia, and globally. We have to position a product and the advice we give accordingly. Another aspect is that the composition of a product [like Vanalis Pro] needs particular additives, and registration is always the challenge; a further obstacle is production, because we need a specific type of industrial setup to be able to produce this kind of functional feed, to ensure the stability, homogeneity and quality of the product.”
Designing a probiotic coated feed
Designed by ADM to provide a higher count of probiotic bacteria in the feed at a lower cost than top-coating probiotic feeds on the market in Vietnam, the company invested in high end equipment for its Ocialis shrimp feed production facility in that market to coat the feed directly with probiotics at the end of the manufacturing process.
The basis for the development of Vanalis Pro was a request for such a product by an international player based in Australia, explained Campet. “It was interested in a consolidated solution for its farm, a product with nutrition, feed and pathological benefits. We developed such a customized product for that company three years ago.”
ADM’s in-house experts from the Epicore business provided the know-how in relation to the probiotic element. Today, Epicore supplies the cocktail of various Bacillus strains used in Vanalis Pro, which are fermented, manufactured, and imported directly from the US to ensure quality and traceability.
The coated probiotic feed has been available to shrimp farmers in Vietnam since June 2020, following a series of locally run in-vitro and in-vivo trials during its development phase. September last year saw a broader release, with Vanalis Pro exported to other Southeast Asian markets where the agribusiness group is active, the Philippines in particular.
ADM’s technical team follows key accounts in Vietnam to ensure the product matches performance, said Campet.
In terms of how the functional feed has performed in the field, the company has tracked a significant increase in shrimp survival and yields and a reduction in the levels present of pathogen bacteria such as Vibrio sp. in the shrimp gut, he said.
“It means that, per square meter, famers are able to produce more.
“Our coating process ensures precision of dosing, and protection of the probiotic, which result in a good intake of the additive by the shrimp,” added Blondet.