An eFeedLink Exclusive
Following avisit in June by the president and chief executive officer of Anitox Corporation, Dr. Rick Philips, to the company's office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, LIVESTOCK and FEED Business (LFB) had an exclusive interview with him.
LFB: Please share with our readers the early beginnings of Anitox and the key milestones of the company as you developed into a global leader in the control of pathogens.
Anitox is a core scientific business – we were established by a scientist 40 years ago, and we're still driven by scientists today, with the express purpose of securing animal and human health and resource efficiency through the development of science-based pathogen control and feed milling efficiency solutions.
Dr. Bob Bland set up the Anitox in the US in 1977, and since then we've introduced leading brands including Termin-8, Maxi-Mil, SorbIT and OptimOH, all of which have set standards in their markets. We were quick to recognise the importance of Asia Pacific markets, opening in Malaysia in 2005, in China in 2010, and in Indonesia in 2014.
We're honoured to work with eight of the world's top 15 feed producing companies, many of which have significant interests here in Asia.
Please explain the business model of Anitox's pathogen control and feed milling divisions. Is there any difference in the business approach from that of 'traditional' feed additive producers?
Anitox is unique – it is the only truly specialist pathogen control and milling efficiency operation in the world. That business model, that specialisation, is increasingly valuable in a world where routine use of antibiotics to improve livestock performance is being consigned to history. There is widespread agreement that the future lies in controlling pathogens before they impact on our production animals. By preventing the gut health, morbidity and mortality challenges that damage production efficiency, we can produce more protein more efficiently, satisfying the needs of growing populations that, quite understandably, desire a more varied, protein-rich diet.
We're therefore unlike any 'traditional' feed additive producer, because we offer our customer partners levels of expertise and support which they simply can't access anywhere else.
In a 2012 press release statement when you were appointed as president and CEO, you said that you "look forward to leading the company through the next phase of its expansion." Could you share with us the achievements of the company, particularly for your business divisions of pathogen control and feed milling?
I'm proud to say that since 2012, Anitox has grown substantially. Today, hundreds of Anitox systems apply product to tens of millions of tonnes of feed and feed materials in 67 countries around the globe. We protect millions of breeder, layer and broiler birds against strains of Salmonella and E. coli commonly found in feed. We enable mills — including many here in Asia — to produce better quality pellets that have been proven to improve feed conversion rates. And we help commercial mills manage moisture in feed to reduce shrink and prolong period when pellets are at peak quality, improving safety and nutrient value.
You also said: "We're increasing our business in the rapidly-growing feed markets of China and Brazil…" Could you elaborate more on these developments since 2012?
Yes, our solutions are increasingly valued by mills and livestock producers in BRIC countries, as we enable them to maximise their share of rapidly growing markets. Demand for poultry protein in China and Brazil, for example, is growing at a rate that, without efficiency systems such as ours, would be almost impossible to satisfy. In recent years we've attracted highly talented technical specialists in both regions – specialist veterinarians, nutritionists and mill technicians with the skills to share best practice know-how and ensure Anitox systems are deployed quickly and efficiently in new and established mills. We're making great progress, but the potential of these markets for further growth is still vast.
Is there a different approach in delivering Anitox's solutions to feed mill customers in developed countries such as in US versus that in China and Brazil?
Yes, but those differences aren't as simple as you might expect. Taking pellet quality as an example; pellet durability in the US is generally poor. High levels of fines are the norm, so there is huge potential to improve feed conversion rates. There is a tremendous amount of research to confirm that birds expend much more energy and derive significantly less nutritional value when fed fines rather than pellets.
Now consider pathogen load in raw materials. Raw material quality and pathogen load varies substantially in some regions of the world, including China and Brazil, and in certain raw materials. It's that variation in pathogen load from one batch of feed and ingredients to the next, which has such a devastating impact in terms of enteritis. By treating feed to ensure a constant pathogen load in it, as we do with our Termin-8 and Finio pathogen control feed treatments, we can iron out the variation to significantly reduce the lost eggs and lost weight gain that result when enteritis hits a flock.
Since your last visit to Malaysia and other parts of Asia, what new opportunities for Anitox do you see the Asia Pacific region bringing?
This region offers Anitox huge potential for growth, both in the poultry and swine markets. But it offers us more than that. We have relationships with some of the most forward-thinking, commercially astute and technically competent feed and livestock production teams in the world here in Asia. Much of the work we do here goes on to be emulated elsewhere in the world. It was in Asia, for example, that we rolled-out our next generation pathogen control treatment Finio. This is a market which allows Anitox to grow its understanding of its technologies, as well as grow its bottom line.
Can we say that pathogen control in feed is the mainstay of Anitox's pathogen control and feed milling businesses? Do you see more market opportunities for pathogen control in feed globally?
It would certainly be true to say that feed pathogen control is at the heart of Anitox's mission. But it's also true to say that we are still learning about the true power of our technologies. For example, in the past year we've embarked on grass-roots research with two universities in the US, both of which are changing our understanding of Termin-8's potential. We now know that Termin-8 is highly effective in controlling avian influenza in feed – something that hadn't been considered until the US Poultry and Egg Association approached Anitox at the end of last year. That causes our scientists to ask more questions about the value of our technologies in the control of viruses, and particularly in the management of those that are most difficult to control with vaccines. It's a gradual process of learning and applying that knowledge in markets where our skills are valued. That work will continue, and we're proud that our customers recognise it as a key benefit of working alongside Anitox.
How does Anitox lead the trend toward an increasingly antibiotic-free farming environment?
I'm not sure we can claim to lead the trend – that's being driven by consumers and governments via the retail industry. But we certainly do claim to help producers operate efficiently in that changing world. For the safety of all mankind, it's clearly vital that we reduce our dependence on antibiotics in agricultural production. We can do that by ensuring feed-source pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli are kept out of the food chain. Simply treating poultry and swine feed with Termin-8, which keeps acting to protect feed right up to the point of consumption, is enough to do just that. Reducing our reliance on antibiotics is a far-reaching challenge. For example, we're also working with the fermentation industry to produce ethanol without antibiotics, ensuring that their by-products, for example DDGs, can continue to be sold for animal feed.
For the animal nutrition and health industry, in terms of innovation and marketing, where do you see Anitox positioned amongst the competition?
We know what we're good at, and we're totally committed to doing it to the best of our ability, with integrity and diligence. We're specialist, and proud of it. We'll share our insights, technologies and know-how as widely as we can; that's part of our commitment to being a responsible provider. Our product development and optimisation pipeline is full with great work that will make a material difference to the businesses we serve, helping to protect the animals and people whose safety and comfort depend on us. We won't be rolling out a new product every few months; that's not our business model. But we will honour our commitment to ensure nobody knows more or does more to understand and deliver pathogen control and milling efficiency.
What does Anitox plan to do to strengthen its global leadership in pathogen control and feed milling?
We're working with some of the most renowned specialists in our field; taking a leadership role is enormously important to us. Our work with Dr. Toro at Auburn University on pathogen control, with Dr. Moritz at Virginia State University on milling efficiency, and with the University of Illinois on fermentation efficiency will ultimately help to improve the safety and efficiency of the markets we serve. And we'll continue to partner many of the world's biggest animal health, broiler, layer, breeder and fermentation businesses in field trials, as we work together to improve our ability to reduce the impact of harmful pathogens. It's this scientific endeavour, together with the efforts of our highly skilled commercial teams, which drive Anitox forward.
Anitox's mission is to provide 'Security through Science'. How would you like to see your company become the 'Cisco' of the global feed and livestock industry?
We could do a lot worse than aim to replicate Cisco's success in our sector. Few businesses have more fundamentally impacted on their markets. If you mean "Can Anitox revolutionise the way the livestock industry tackles gut health and performance?" then yes, I would like to see that. Moreover, I believe it's a realistic probability. The work going on in our laboratories today can, and I believe will, radically change our willingness to tolerate pathogens in livestock production. The associated loss of performance is becoming clearer at the same time as we're developing technologies to eradicate the issue. Only time will tell, but I can assure you Anitox has every intention of leading the way.
Anitox's Official Website: www.anitox.com