BASF: Creating chemistry, with customers
BASF has been in the business of "creating chemistry" for over 150 years now, and today remains one of the most innovative companies. This achievement, says Stephen Crisp, regional head of BASF's Animal Nutrition for Asia Pacific, has been "very reassuring", looking at the long-term partnerships it has forged with its customers, some of which for more than half a century now, such as those in Thailand. At the VIV Asia in Bangkok, Thailand, in March, LIVESTOCK and FEED BUSINESS sat down with Mr. Crisp to talk about BASF and a range of other issues.
LFB: What's new from BASF since the last VIV Asia in 2015?
In 2016, the four strategic business units of BASF Nutrition & Health Asia Pacific, namely Human Nutrition, Animal Nutrition, Aroma Ingredients, and Pharma Solutions, were consolidated.
This entailed the relocation of our regional Animal Nutrition team from Hong Kong to Singapore.
BASF Animal Nutrition has two product lines - essential ingredients and performance ingredients.
BASF's "essential ingredients" portfolio includes vitamins and minerals which are essential for animal health. Our "performance ingredients", products which enhance performance of livestock production on the other hand, include enzymes, toxin binders, carotenoids and organic acids.
Organic acids, for example, improve the gut health and allow the production of high quality silage and forage.
Since VIV Asia 2015, we at BASF grow our technical teams to enhance the level of technical support to our customers. We have and will continue our focus on Asia, the world's fastest growing region, which accounts for 40% of global feed production.
We have since launched our new phytase product, Natuphos® E, now available almost throughout Asia Pacific, along with a new product range of mineral glycinates, as well as Novasil, our most potent aflatoxin binder.
What makes you believe that your new products will find ready buyers in Asia?
We have a strong brand presence in Asia. BASF is known in the region for its ability to efficiently produce products in a highly efficient manner due to its high level of backward integration.
In addition, we have established long-term partnerships throughout the region, some of which have been in place for more than 50 years. More importantly, customers will find a number of benefits from our products. For example, Natuphos E - available in granular, liquid and powder forms - is highly stable in premix and feed.
The unprotected powder form is stable up to 85 degrees Celsius and granulates up to 95 degrees Celsius.
BASF has developed Natuphos® E, a novel hybrid 6-phytase enzyme uniquely designed for the feed industry that destroys the antinutrient phytate in feed. Enzymes are heat-sensitive molecules and can be destroyed by the high pelleting temperatures in the feed manufacturing process. Natuphos® E, however, can withstand pelleting temperatures of up to 95°C.
The use of feed enzymes is highly beneficial to the environment. We have calculated that since BASF introduced phytase into animal feeds more than 20 years ago, we have prevented the mining of global rock phosphates reserves equivalent to four times the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
In the case of our trace mineral glycinates, glycine, the smallest amino acid is chemically linked to a trace mineral which means we pack the maximum possible amount of minerals per kilogram into our product. In addition, BASF has developed a way to analyze the level of complexation and can thus guarantee a more than 90% degree of complexation between glycine and the elemental mineral involved. No other products on the market can lay claim to this.
What is BASF's growth plan for the Asia Pacific region in 2017?
We will continue to forge strong partnerships and jointly develop new product applications to serve our customers better. With pressure from consumers, retail chains and authorities, more and more Asian countries are now opting to remove Antibiotic Growth Promoters (AGPs) from animal feeds. Good examples are Indonesia, which plans to ban AGPs within the next few years, and probably China, which will reduce their usage of AGPs due to increased levels of pressure by better informed consumers. This in turn will increase our focus on organic acids.
There is a lot of confusion in the market right now as to which AGP replacement approach to adopt. But, for us, most likely it would be a combination of organic acids, probiotics and possibly essential oils - along with good animal production practices.
In addition to that, today's consumers are increasingly concerned about sustainability. This is nothing new to us. At BASF's major production site in Ludwigshafen, Germany, we focus on sustainability across the board for more than 20 years, from raw material sourcing to creating products like Natuphos E. This has been possible through our verbund approach, a fully integrated production complex, where waste is continuously being minimised.
With verbund, BASF produces 7,000-8,000 products which all can be traced back to their raw materials, like naphtha, crude oil, natural gas and increasingly also renewable feedstocks. As an added service, we selectively provide a full programme to measure the level of sustainability to customers. This enables them to measure their progress in sustainability, based on proven industry certification standards which they can use in their product branding strategies.
BASF's headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany. With more than 250 production sites, several hundred laboratories, technical centres, workshops and offices, it is the largest integrated chemical complex in the world.
Does BASF see any opportunities in the aquaculture industry?
Although aquaculture's share in global feed production is small, it is the fastest growing segment in the industry. With 70% of global aquaculture being based in Asia, we see opportunities from producing protein more efficiently, meaning "more output for less input".
Our focus would be on maintaining a good health status in order to address issues like EMS in white shrimp.
In addition, organic acids improve gut health in shrimp, aside from preserving feed and helping control salmonella through pH reduction.
What industry changes do you hope to see in Asia soon?
In November 2016, BASF entered into a partnership with South China Agriculture University towards reducing the use of AGPs in post-weaning piglets. This is a dream project personally. There are 800 million smallholders, subsistence or backyard farmers in the world. I see products on offer, that have questionable efficacy - I personally view this exploitation as morally incorrect. Using the results of this project, I hope to see the level of nutrition knowledge in the industry increase. Ultimately smart customers will choose smart products and that's what BASF offers.
At BASF, everything we do is based on science and sound research. We prefer our customers to decide for themselves, even encouraging them to test our products under their own production conditions. We believe in offering products that help our customers to be more profitable. Long term success for partners and customers translates into long term success for BASF.
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