July 23, 2019
Evonik: Expanding a sustainability-focused business
During the event, Johann-Caspar Gammelin, chairman of the board of management of Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH, said that Asia's "growing consumer affluence" helps boost the demand for animal protein.
He noted: "...producers are increasingly focusing on the sustainable production of meat, eggs, milk and fish. We are proud that our MetAMINO® plays a key role in supporting these efforts."
Speaking to eFeedLink on the sideline of the opening ceremony, Dr. Emmanuel Auer, Evonik's head of business line for animal nutrition, considers amino acid as a crucial element in supporting better animal diets and the mitigation of environmental impact.
"Animal feed concepts depend on addressing low protein in [livestock] diet as the first and foremost basic factor. That means the full value of amino acid-supplemented feed is the foundation of a modern diet, which will enable accessible protein and ecologically benign production," Dr. Auer explains. He adds that amino acids contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and the saving of water and animal feed consumptions.
Elaborating on the setup of a second MetAmino plant in Singapore, Gammelin tells eFeedLink that the move was a "strategically-driven decision" which takes into account middle-class populations in a region, the demand for protein and healthy nutrition, and opportunities for market growth.
Other aspects of Evonik's amino acids business, as highlighted by Dr. Auer, are specifically its adaptability to market conditions and a strong base in threonine production. After closing its threonine production in Europe, Evonik worked with Fufeng Group to manufacture threonine (marketed by Evonik as ThreAMINO®) at a plant in China.
Describing the partnership Dr. Auer says: "There is a synergistic approach in which (Evonik's) technology and market access match the capabilities of a Chinese company to produce a solid footprint and supply the market with high-quality threonine and feed formulations."
Seeking partners and expertise in improving sustainability
Evonik is not alone in its pursuit of enhancing sustainability, Dr. Auer points out. The company is looking for partnerships which "are becoming a broader concept towards innovation and the realisation of potential value" as Evonik enters a new market, he remarks.
For instance, the company partnered with DSM, a Dutch multinational corporation, to establish a new firm, Veramaris, last year. The joint venture produces omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from natural marine algae for animal nutrition.
"We strive to supply natural omega fatty acids for aqua farming, particularly salmon farming, in order to enable further growth of the aquaculture market as marine resources (as the only source of omega fatty acids) are limited," Dr. Auer says. He believes that the extraction of these acids from natural algae can address the problem of overfishing of oceans and cater to rising demand for healthy fish.
Evonik also seeks to improve its expertise in precision livestock farming. This goal is underscored by its 2018 acquisition of Porphyrio, a leading player in Big Data solutions for livestock production.
Dr. Auer says that Porphyrio's technologies can aid in leveraging "the value of a good and modern diet" in line with professional farming standards.
"(Porphyrio's) software enables us to connect with relevant nutrition data and existing tools to introduce modern feed formulations to the farmer," he explains. "[With this application,] there will be a secondary effect on the precise dosage of feed additives and this will provide a growth trajectory to amino acids as well."
Outside Europe, Evonik looks to continue growing its activities in China. It has contributed to a venture capital fund controlled by New Hope Liuhe, one of China's major feed producers. The fund was developed to "identify new ventures in the field of healthy and sustainable food," according to Dr. Auer.
"It was an opportunity for us as an innovative company to join this fund which supports the identification of new opportunities," he says.
Even then, engaging the Chinese market comes with its own challenges. On April 10 this year, China's Ministry of Commerce announced anti-dumping investigations concerning the import of methionine from Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. If anything, Evonik is confident that it has complied with trade rules set by the World Trade Organization and will still maintain a foothold in China.
"Our customers in China expect a reliable, uninterrupted and high-quality supply of amino acids for their growing demand. Therefore, we are committed to cooperating fully with Chinese authorities, [in order to] continue our commitment to these customers," Dr. Auer says.