Novus investing in science and innovation to grow business, sustainability moves front and center
Ed Galo, senior vice president and chief commercial officer, Novus, talked to us about the trends driving the global business development of the methionine and trace mineral company.
In May 2021, he took on the challenge of managing the commercial aspects of the business in the Americas and EMEA, and in January this year, his role changed further, with him now leading Novus’ global commercial organization.
The larger role is “a culmination of our transformation journey", said Galo, in terms of Novus’ ambition to become a “leader in nutritional gut health solutions for the animal protein industry.”
The expansion of his role came about as the company evaluated its geographic footprint and looked at how to best operate in its core markets. “Our aim is to be aligned, connected, and well-positioned to meet the evolving needs of our customers and our industry. I’m accountable for driving Novus’s commercial strategy, leveraging the resources of the company to support the business, and aligning all functions to deliver customer value. Novus will finish its fiscal year in March, so I’ve been preparing for the upcoming one. We’re also working to get our new teams, the individual members, connected while continuing to run our business."
Galo spoke about fundamental trends today, with him identifying as a key dynamic the fact that consumers are increasingly making choices based on sustainability factors.
“Sustainability has been a driver for a long time, and an area in which the animal production industry has done very well. Every animal food product, from milk to poultry to pork to beef, has shown very significant reductions in carbon footprint per unit while providing highly nutritious food to a growing population. Today we see added pressure from both end-consumers and government regulators for us to do more with fewer environmental impacts. Consumers want healthy, safe, affordable meat, fish, and eggs, and they want to feel confident that these are raised in a responsible and sustainable way.
“Our company is in-tune with these demands, and we are focusing our solutions and technology development on these challenges, keeping animals healthy and productive and allowing producers to maintain productivity and profitability as they adapt to what consumers are asking for: from antibiotic-free production to cage-free and so on.”
Novus, he said, has had success in terms of, for example, maintaining or even improving performance in light of pending zinc oxide bans, among gains in multiple other areas of animal production. “It’s important for companies in our sector to see what they can change to improve their sustainability story.”
The shift to antibiotic-free (ABF) meat is a trend that continues to grow around the world, but the challenges it creates for animal protein producers can vary greatly, he noted.
“It takes a holistic approach involving feed additives, environmental management, and ongoing monitoring to reduce the risks inherent with ABF [production] and maintain or improve animal performance. It’s important that nutritionists and producers find partners that can look at their whole operation and offer guidance on best practices.”
Looking at the past five years and some of the challenges for the sector, Galo highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic as being one of the biggest game changers for business:
“The pandemic has taken away the safety net that allowed the industry to navigate without fully focusing on the key vulnerabilities and [inherent] risks we had, like in the supply chain, which is massive; adoption of technology to run our business, keeping our teams engaged while working remotely, onboarding new talent, staying relevant in our quest to bring solutions to our customers. Those are not necessarily new challenges but aspects of our organization that certainly had greater focus placed on them due to the pandemic.”
Novus announced changes to its corporate structure in the past year, saying it would move innovation and R&D to the top of the organization – how has that strategy influenced product development of late?
“When you are focused on being a solutions provider to such an industry as ours that is engaged in feeding the world, innovation is essential. Since our inception 30 years ago, Novus has been heavily invested in science and innovation and in developing a deep understanding of the gut, starting with our HMTBa molecule – the active ingredient in our methionine feed supplement and the backbone of several of our specialty technologies.
“Our innovation team is leading Novus’s renewed investment in developing new solutions and services for our customers.
“We also have a pipeline of technologies in development aimed at solving relevant challenges the industry faces today or is expected to face in the future.
“Al Zimmerman joined the Novus executive leadership last year as head of innovation and R&D, and, in that time, we launched several solutions from the INTERIUS technology platform [arising out of the partnership with Agrivida] bringing an innovative approach to enzyme production and delivery through the expression of those proteins inside corn.”
The newest product developed through INTERIUS, he said, is GRAINZYME ENERGAIN, a dry source of ß-glucanase, which is an enzyme that breaks down a specific carbohydrate (ß-glucan) to improve the digestibility of feedstuffs and make more energy available to the animal. Glucanase is one of the enzymes that turns carbohydrates into simple sugars. So, along with improving digestibility, ENEGRAIN is designed to increase the caloric value of raw feedstuffs, said Galo.
“The GRAINZYME family of products is just the beginning. Researchers from Novus and Agrivida are currently working on new initiatives to expand the INTERIUS platform to include a variety of new additives. We expect this platform will be impactful in our drive for a better future for the environment, producers, and consumers.”
Productivity, efficiency gains
And he also outlined how the company has been developing the various markets for its specialty products:
“Novus is focused on core markets across the Americas, EMEA, and Asia with solid traction and success across all, particularly in the poultry, dairy, and swine segments.
"We have experienced significant success improving the longevity and productivity of sows and with the health and productivity of piglets.
"We have grown in the dairy industry, with success in milk components and yield, reproductive efficiency, and reducing lameness, to name a few.
"And we’ve been successful in the many segments of the poultry industry from the breeder side and quality of the offspring, to the meat growing stages in broilers and egg productivity and quality in layers, as well as the performance of turkeys.”
As regards regional development opportunities, he said the European market remains core for Novus. “We have been very successful there, particularly in poultry and swine. We see an opportunity to continue to grow in this market in our current segments, and also in other segments such as dairy, where we’ve had a lot of experience and success in other geographies like North America. Our view toward Europe is one of investment and focus. This is a key market for global food production.”
It is no secret that the Americas is an essential market for Novus. “It’s where we produce methionine and have significant investment and presence. This is a core region for our specialty solutions aimed at poultry, dairy, and swine. That said, the Americas is still a growing market and one in which we see a huge opportunity for the future.”
The company has also been active in both the Middle East and Africa. That has been paying off, particularly in the poultry segment, across the product portfolio, commented Galo.
Are acquisitions on the cards over the next 18 months? “Bringing innovation to the market is our key driver. Acquisitions are one way of achieving that, so of course, we are always pursuing this avenue.”