May 21, 2015


Novus: Pioneering a multifaceted solution


In the April issue of FEED Business Worldwide, we read how Novus uses its methionine edge for its feed enzyme products. In this article we see how the company takes this competitive advantage one step further.


By Ngai Meng CHAN                                                                                             



It is not often that the feed additive industry sees an established product like Novus's ALIMET® give birth to a new product, which then becomes a big hit in the market.


And we're talking about MINTREX, says Rey Agra, Novus's Regional Product Manager (APEC) for Minerals and Pigments. 


"MINTREX is a Novus-born chelated trace mineral technology that uses, as its ligand, our own methionine molecule, HMTBa, of which Novus has the highest level of knowledge that runs more than 50 years deep." 


Novus's many years of experience in the animal nutrition industry helped shape MINTREX, whose making has been meticulous and tedious. Using only the best ingredients, he says, it is manufactured "to exact specifications, adhering to global quality standards" consistent with the Novus mission to always provide its customers "high quality trace minerals of a consistent standard."


Dr. Agra also cites Novus's strategy of keeping close kinship with the customer as one of the key factors for MINTREX's market success.


"We are always thinking of ways to better serve our customers. Before the first delivery of MINTREX in the US back in 2004, we had realised the market was in need of a more bioavailable source of organic trace minerals," he says.


According to him, bioavailability at the site of absorption is key to trace mineral nutrition. In this regard, he adds, organic trace minerals (OTMs) may be superior compared to inorganic trace minerals (ITMs). But, he underscores, not all OTMs are created equal.


For example, MINTREX has been proven in many animal trials to have higher stability in the gut, effectively increasing mineral absorption to levels higher than those from other trace mineral sources.


"MINTREX is unique for being a true chelated mineral with, unlike other OTMs, two molecules of HMTBa bound to the mineral in a 2:1 ratio, protecting the mineral until it gets to the site of absorption. As a result, there is an added residual methionine effect that can reduce the required level of supplemental methionine per tonne of feed," Dr. Agra explains. 


"It's a big reason why, back in February 2013, MINTREX won the prestigious 2012 Frost & Sullivan Product Differentiation Award that sets it apart from other OTMs in the market," he says.

Currently, zinc, copper and manganese supplements of MINTREX are available, together with their blends.


He says MINTREX has received awards, citations and certifications from around the world, foremost of which is the product's approval from the European Commission's approval (EU Regulation EC# 350/2010, 335/2010 and 349/2010) issued in April 2010 and "the Association of American Feed Control Officials' (AAFCO) definition in January 2012 of MINTREX as a true chelated trace mineral feed additive that is uniquely categorised due to its HMTBa ligand."


He adds that "MINTREX's ability in chelation has been validated by the AAFCO through both FT-IR and X-ray crystallography (analytical methods)."


Opportunities ahead


Increasingly, producers have been rethinking long-held concepts of livestock nutrition, including those of trace mineral nutrition - as much as they did for genetic progress and improvements in animal housing and management in the past decade- to push to the limit livestock performance.


"As structural - bone, tissue, egg shell - challenges became increasingly apparent production concerns, the mineral market has shifted towards an increased appreciation and gradual expanded use of OTMs. Coupled with recent and increasing pressure from environmental and animal welfare regulations, the focus on quality trace mineral solutions like MINTREX has and will expectedly continue to grow," Dr. Agra says.


Expanding the use of OTMs in animal feed formulations from the still predominant, traditional use of ITMs and to offer MINTREX as a sustainable way to address the production concerns of its end clients remains a prime opportunity for Novus.


"MINTREX has a real impact on production parameters that directly improve profitability and it's a very large opportunity for us to show these improvements to our customers".


By improving key production parameters above levels obtained from other mineral sources, MINTREX directly enhances customer profitability through increasing saleable end products (i.e. meat/egg/milk), decreasing mortality, improving feed efficiency and strengthening immunity.


Another growing concern among its clients, according to Dr. Agra, is the possible presence of contaminants such as heavy metals, dioxins and PCBs in livestock feed. Indeed, he says, ITMs are more prone to these risks as quality controls are rarely carried out in these products. 


In contrast, MINTREX's chelated trace minerals are manufactured under the strict Novus Quality Management System, which ensures safe, high quality trace mineral solutions that consistently exceed stringent global standards, giving the company's end clients peace of mind.


As overall protein consumption will continue to rise due to population growth and with current pressures on environment and animal welfare regulations intensifying, the OTM market will gradually be more appreciated, Dr. Agra says.


"Novus believes we can grow the minerals business and maintain position among the leaders in the OTM market, particularly here in Asia, growing about 12% year-on-year till 2020," he says.


While each geographic region may differ as far as maturity and development of the mineral market is concerned, he says the Novus approach remains the same: to focus on the customer's needs.


"Whether it's a footpad health problem in broilers in Brazil, an egg shell quality concern in layers in China, a sow retention problem in Thailand or a milk quality issue in dairy cows in the US, the point is that MINTREX directly impacts such production parameters and helps the customer's bottom line by addressing their needs".


On per-need basis, Novus also provides localised technical and marketing support. In the process, it gains hands-on knowledge of the customers' current and future needs. This also gives it the opportunity to work out sustainable solutions to their concerns. 


"We also organise regional customer-centric events such as Swine Forums, Breeder Forums and Layer Forums wherein mineral-related issues and updates are shared," Dr. Agra says.


Needless to say, Novus is committed to industry collaborations at the local level. It has in fact robust presence in 35 countries, where it maintains corporate offices and operates research and development laboratories and manufacturing facilities. And it has smaller offices with field staff in 60 other countries.


Given its scientific heritage born out from its Monsanto past, Novus keeps R&D a priority, which explains its continued high-profile collaborations with top educational institutions in Asia like the Kasetsart University in Thailand and the Bombay Veterinary College in India, just to name a few.


Novus acknowledges that commitment to scientific excellence is key to success and longevity in the market. Hence, mineral product offerings, including those involving synergistic applications with other feed additives, such as MINTREX, may potentially be considered as the market evolves.


Novus's commitment to research is supported by a dedicated state-of-the-art facility in Missouri, USA. Called Green Acres, it is here where researches and trials, including those of product applications, are done. One such study conducted at Green Acres was on "the future of copper as a growth promotant in pigs," whose findings were presented at the Pig Feed Quality Conference in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam last April.


Sustainability is another principle that Novus strongly subscribes to. In fact, it has been at the forefront of offering sustainable solutions to its customers.


"Novus supports our customers and the industry in general with the yearly global sustainability report which is now on its sixth issue. Specifically in terms of mineral solutions, the unique structure of MINTREX gives it a high bioavailability and thus ensures fewer minerals are excreted into the environment as animal waste," Dr. Agra says.


MINTREX is just one of its many solutions. But with it alone it cannot be any clearer that Novus's noble vision is for a higher quality of life through affordable, safe and wholesome food.

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