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Executive Talk

October 31, 2013

Neovia: Achieving food safety with innovative natural feed solutions
An eFeedLink Executive
Strict feed additive regulations and rising consumer demand for safe, healthy meat are here to stay. Pierre Defalque, Managing Director of Neovia explains how this feed additive company leverages such trends in an innovative and sustainable manner. 
by Geraldine EE
Pierre Defalque, Managing Director of Neovia
With consumers looking for safer meat products, there is growing demand for safer feed that does not contain antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) or other banned substances. Ahead of this trend, Pierre Defalque, Managing Director of Neovia says that the company has been developing AGP replacers since the year 2000 in view of concerns about the use of antibiotics in Europe.
"Since the ban on AGPs, antibiotics are still allowed for therapeutic purposes, but the regulations are getting stricter," says Defalque.
With such trends in mind, Neovia has been working on alternatives to coccidiostats for five years, even though chemicals are still commonly used everywhere and there is no ban on coccidiostats. The company eventually designed an effective answer: Oilis, which is based on a mix of specific plants extracts.
Defalque affirms the company's commitment and belief in this product's effectiveness against coccidiosis, "We believe it is the best alternative at the present time, but we will keep working to improve its performance and efficiency with natural extracts in order to be ready when regulations regarding the use of coccidiostats become more stringent."
Natural to the core
Neovia's core business is based on scientifically calibrated natural ingredients designed to replace medicated feed supplements such as antibiotics. For instance, its plant extracts-based Powerjet is designed for stress management; while AGP replacer B-Safe is made from copper activated with clay. While companies that claim the use of natural ingredients are plentiful these days, Neovia goes a step further in ensuring the effectiveness of its ingredients. 
"Some companies using plant extracts and natural ingredients select raw materials based on bibliography and in-vitro trials. At Neovia, we select ingredients based on in-vivo trials in our own research stations or based on work with independent laboratories," Defalque explains.
One such instance is the company's approach towards finding a solution for coccidiosis in poultry. Towards this end, Neovia developed an experimental broiler model, whereby day-old chicks are fed with different plant extracts and infected with coccidiosis strains selected by INRA (France's National Agronomic Research Institute). After slaughter, key performance indicators are measured, including the number of intestinal lesions and zootechnical performance indicators, such as average daily weight gain and feed conversion ratios.
Through InVivo labs, Neovia is able to develop very specific methods of analysis for some very specific ingredients, which Defalque sees as Neovia's edge.
Because Neovia's products are based on such rigorous, in-house scientific testing, Defalque is very confident about their effectiveness. "After running many trials for each species, we are very confident about the efficacy, safety and traceability of our products. He adds that, "Thanks to the R&D capability of our parent company, InVivo NSA, we perform in-vivo validation of our products. We have more than 150 people working in 13 applied research stations located worldwide."
The R&D facility of parent company, InVivo NSA at Saint Nolff in the
Brittany region of north-western France, where Neovia performs in-vivo validation

Researcher at InVivo labs at Saint Nolff in the Brittany region of north-western
 France, where accurate analysis methods for specific ingredients are developed
He concludes that, "With this, we are able to screen, compare and set up the most effective solution."
He elaborates, "There are not many labs in the world which are able to achieve such detailed analysis, such as the identification of 44 different types of mycotoxins in the raw material, or analyse very specific plant extract like sanguinarine."
But Neovia does more than meet the challenges created by traditional, man-made feed supplements such as AGPs. There is also growing concern about the health effects of mycotoxins, which can move up the food chain from feed ingredients to livestock and eventually, humans.
For instance, Aflatoxin B1 originates in mould-infested feed corn, moves through the rumen of dairy cows and can be passed on to humans through the latter's consumption of their milk. As such, the company expects demand for mycotoxin binders to grow everywhere for all species.
In addition, with many countries still allowing AGPs to be put into feed, the spectre of antibiotic resistant bacteria infecting humans will continue to haunt the meat and livestock industries. To overcome such challenges, demand for Neovia's T5X mycotoxin control and for natural, sustainable feed additives such as B-safe and PowerJet are expected to grow.
Elaborating on the company's products and positioning, Defalque says, "We are going to be very much focused on the area of mycotoxins and de-medication, where we want to secure a very significant market position."
The winning combination
Looking ahead, Neovia intends to launch an innovative plant extract-based for layers next year. Other innovative products based on phytogenic and natural ingredient are also in the pipeline for the coming years, as Neovia builds onto its current portfolio of natural products.  
Beyond providing feed additives, Neovia believes in providing a 360-degree solution. For the company, this means that along with innovative, natural feed additives, farm management needs to be strengthened. And a big part of the latter involves the establishment of biosecurity strategies and livestock vaccination programmes.
"We bring extra value to our customers through our product managers dedicated to each product and species-specific specialists. Based on a global approach, we advise customers about farm management decision-making tools in order to reduce the use of antibiotics as much as possible and to avoid sanitary problems," Defalque explains.
In addition, at the company's research and development centres in France, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Brazil and Mexico, its feed additives and complete feeds are tested under that host country's local conditions with indigenous raw materials, based on the way they are used and the way animals are reared in that country.
Set for growth
With Neovia's success came a rapid expansion: Despite being a relatively young organisation established in 2008, Neovia has an impressive global footprint, with operations in Asia, Western Europe, Africa and Middle East.
Furthermore, precisely because it is a relatively young company, Defalque believes that unlike its more mature competitors, Neovia still has significant growth potential in Europe itself. He affirms that the company will continue to develop in Europe and sees the greatest potential for expansion in Eastern European countries, such as Russia and Ukraine.
Speaking of the high growth regions of Latin America and Asia, Defalque sees a lot of potential in Latin America, where Neovia started its activities in Mexico and Brazil two to three years ago.
In Asia, Neovia is recruiting technical and sales persons to strengthen its regional presence. This is particularly the case in China, where parent company InVivo NSA has been providing premix in Qingdao for 10 years, and where it has been developing products which are pending approval for registration.
"In South America, we are really focusing on Mexico and Brazil, through our existing InVivo NSA network. InVivo NSA is eager to develop premix and complete feed in Asian countries and in South America, which strengthens Neovia' s relevance in new markets," says Defalque.
With growth within and beyond Europe, demand for Neovia's products soon outgrew the capacity of its original production facility, which is situated at Vannes, in France's Brittany region. In order to meet this growing demand, Neovia's production is now spread across three plants in France. Two additional plants were established; one at Chateau-Thierry in northeastern France's Picardie region; and another at Bourg en Bresse, in eastern France's Rhone-Alpes region. The company later established production facilities near Pretoria, South Africa and in Mumbai, India.
Although it understands and appreciates the importance of organic growth, it is also leveraging its rapid revenue expansion to acquire feed additives companies that support its long-term product roadmap.
"This will complement our product portfolio, distribution network and sourcing. The target is to reach €100 million (US$135.68 million) turnover within three years. Hopefully there will be soon new companies joining our organisation," Says Defalque.
With its far-sighted formula of natural products and a strategic expansion strategy, this feed additive company seems set to hit its ambitious target in the years ahead. 
Headquarters of InVivo NSA at Saint Nolff in the Brittany region of north-western France

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