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Animal Health

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August 23, 2016


Phytobiotics: Enhancing appetite for feed



Livestock such as swine and cattle have significantly higher numbers of taste buds compared to humans, making them much more sensitive to flavours. For nearly two decades since the company was founded, German-based Phytobiotics has been finding the most suitable flavour type and the optimal dosage for all species and age categories.


by Ngai Meng CHAN



It is widely known within the global feed and livestock community, that in 2015, the industry has generally not performed well. Like most commodities, prices of feed grains — corn, soybean and wheat - have been treading at low prices, consequently dragging down feed markets in major countries. Against this backdrop, feed additive companies have been constantly working on products and solutions to improve feed intake and conversion, and to stabilise animal performance.


For German-based Phytobiotics, the company has shown that by using suitable feed additives, such as its feed flavour range Flavorsweet, the feed composition can be adapted, resulting in lower feed costs, and without causing a negative effect on feed conversion and animal performance.


Apart from the need to improve feed intake and conversion, and stabilise animal performance, according to Phytobiotics, the feed industry is increasingly looking for innovative products for different applications, such as microencapsulated flavours with higher stabilities during heat treatment and pelleting.


Driven by rising consumer awareness and concerns in animal welfare and food safety, feed producers also have to be sure that all used feed additives do not have negative effects on animal health and the quality of final food products (for e.g., meat, eggs, milk). For these reasons, Phytobiotics and its global partner, leading world producer of flavours, German-based Symrise, make sure that all flavouring ingredients are either natural or the exact equivalent to original substances and that they are produced industrially. Additionally, all raw materials are approved for the use in animal nutrition and food products and are allergy-tested.


Going back into the history of Phytobiotics, the company was founded in 2000, when Dr. Hermann Roth purchased the patent for the chemical compound Sanguinarine from a German company, for which he had worked before, with the intent of using it to support profitability in livestock production. During the following years a two-person start-up grew to an international business with sister companies spanning three continents, and a market presence in over 70 countries worldwide. Phytobiotics' production site in Neuendettelsau, Bavaria, operated by sister company Senso Additive, was greatly expanded in 2015 to better meet growing global demand and to include the product additions of natural growth promoter Sangrovit®, biogas additives SensoPower, and its sweetener line of mixtures into its production processes.


Today, Phytobiotics produces up to 8,000 tonnes of feed additives per year in a three-shift operation, and has a product portfolio consisting of four product fields: Sangrovit®, a phytogenic feed additive for intestinal health; Plexomin®, organic trace elements with high solubility; SensoPower, products to increase the efficiency of biogas plants; and, Flavorsweet, feed flavours and sweeteners.


Global partner Symrise is one of the leading companies worldwide in flavour development and production, and has a long experience in flavours for farm animals. Phytobiotics distributes their flavours for livestock feed on an exclusive basis in big parts of the world. Due to its close relationship with feed producers, Phytobiotics are well-informed of their requirements in different countries and can promptly react and give input to Symrise for the development of new flavours and flavour formulations to fulfill changes in market demands. Together with Symrise, Phytobiotics uses a state-of-the-art laboratory with different mixer types for simulation of practical conditions in feed production. On its own, Phytobiotics also tests new products in feeding trials at research institutes or under field conditions to demonstrate the effect of the flavours on feed intake.


With such a strong synergy in place, it is of little surprise then that Phytobiotics is able to provide a comprehensive range of feed flavours for all farm animals and feed types. These include milk-type as well as fruity and spicy flavours. Moreover, all flavours are available in different forms (for e.g., liquid or encapsulated granules) to fit different feed forms and feeding systems.


Currently, the main markets for the company's flavour products are Europe and South America, but it says that there is a very big and growing potential in Asia, especially China, where it expects significant sales in the near future.


In China, the company is in the process of registration and trial for its products, and expects to launch its first product in the market by the end of 2016. However, one of its big future challenges then will be the intellectual property protection, and the company will need to set its own strategy.


For some developed markets like Western Europe and the US where growth is stagnant, they nonetheless represent a big part of the global market for feed additives, and Phytobiotics says it will not neglect those markets. In those markets the company will constantly work to increase its market share, whereas for developing markets, it is investing a lot to capitalise on the growing feed production.


Phytobiotics also points out that there are substantial differences in flavour types used in different regions around the world. Although new flavour types are frequently asked for by feed producers, there are standard flavours, such as milk-type flavours for piglet and calf feed, which enjoy evergreen popularity.

A relatively new application for flavours is in aquaculture, a fast growing sector which contributes substantially to human nutrition in Asia and will be even more important in the future. According to Phytobiotics, latest results have shown that special flavours can significantly enhance feed intake in fish and shrimp. The development of flavours in this area is a major challenge for the manufacturer due to the special preferences of these animals and the unique feeding systems. Again thanks to the expertise from Symrise, Phytobiotics has been able to respond to this new challenge by providing suitable flavours for aquaculture.


Flavours may not be the first thing that comes into mind during feed formulation, but as Phytobiotics continues to show, there is much economic benefit to be gained by the feed miller, or the farmer, while at the same time keeping their animals happy, by providing a tasty diet.

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