By Rick Alberto


NOVUS International started as "just a methionine company", when it was formed out of Monsanto's feed ingredients division, which Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and Nippon Soda Co. Ltd. acquired in 1991.


Thus said Koichiro Tago, chair of the NOVUS board of directors, before livestock journalists gathered at the NOVUS global headquarters (pictured, below) in St. Charles, Missouri, USA, earlier this month, to celebrate the company's silver anniversary.


Twenty-five years later, "we are one of the leading methionine companies in the world", Mr. Tago said in his opening remarks for the twoday "Media Jam", one of the various activities NOVUS organised to mark its milestone this June.


Broadly, NOVUS is now one of the world's leading feed additive companies, but one thing sure, according to NOVUS President and CEO Francois Fraudeau, is that it is the largest feed additive company in the US today in terms of sales.


NOVUS started with only two products on the market, and working from a strong base of scientific understanding and technological innovation, it has grown into five-technology platforms over the past decade.


Its animal-nutrition portfolio works in conventional, organic, antibiotic-free and all-natural systems to ensure customers meet consumer demand and changing regulatory conditions.


UN recognition


With its stress on "Solutions, Service and Sustainability", NOVUS was recognised by the UN for its achievements in a climate-change forum, representing the agriculture sector, Tago proudly said. He exulted, "We are proud and happy for what NOVUS has achieved".


The first day of the 25 th Annivesary Media Jam dealt on topics closest to NOVUS' heart, including methionine, the antibiotic-free movement, sustainability and innovation. The Q&A sessions were very ably facilitated by Yvonne Catty and Chris Winsor.


NOVUS intends on being a leading methionine producer as it plans to open seven plants in the next 14 years, Jeff Klopfenstein, president of the NOVUS Methionine Business Unit, disclosed in his talk. He added that in 2020, a new 120,00-tonne-capacity methionine plant will start operating in a yet to be disclosed place. He also said that China will remain an important market for NOVUS. "We will stay in China and we are dedicated to China." It has regional headquarters in Shanghai and has manufacturing plant and sales offices in that country.


A three-man panel-composed of Bob Buresh, executive manager, North America technical services; Dr. Mercedes Vasquez-Anon, senior director of animal nutrition research and facilities; and Dr. Nasser Odetallah, executive manager of global technical services-discussed the growing antibiotic-free movement.


Project Horizon


Dispensing with antibiotics in animal production is a hard process that will entail improved husbandry, biosecurity, ingredient quality and nutrition, among others, they said.


Earlier at the World Pork Expo held on June 8-10 in Iowa, NOVUS launched Project Horizon, whose objective is to expertly manage animal health through nutrition, addressing heightened health and performance concerns due to the reduction or complete removal of antibiotics.


Discussion later moved to the topic "Science vs. Sustainability" with Dr. Anon and Jake Piel, sustainability manager, as featured experts.


Anon and Piel agreed that there should really be no "fight" between the two as science and sustainability should both be "driving the bus".


Science, which has helped improve agriculture, continues to be challenged by the demands of sustainability, Anon said. Sustainability has been a part of NOVUS' strategy, recognising the pressure its customers face to produce safe, affordable food in the most environment-friendly way. As a partner, NOVUS says it must solve customer pains sustainably. In its latest sustainability report dated 2014, NOVUS lists as its highlights: the 10th year of manufacturing MINTREX® chelated trace minerals, considered a true NOVUS innovation, born from HMTBa technology (MINTREX® chelated trace minerals are a highly bioavailable source of mineral supplementation); the 30th year of producing Almet, NOVUS' first product, manufactured at its facility in Chocolate Bayou, Texas, USA. (The facility is the world's largest producer of HMTBa, a source of methionine for growing animals.); and the birth of CIBENZA® PHYTAVERSE®, a next-generation phytase enzyme that allows animal producers to formulate more efficient diets, thus lowering feed costs and reducing phosphorous released into the environment.


In 2014, NOVUS also participated in a collaborative project, led by the International Feed Industry Federation, to quantify the environmental benefits of specialty feed ingredients. It said results showed that feed ingredient products, like those produced by NOVUS, reduce global warming, and the eutrophication and acidification potential of livestock production.


Sustainability strategy


Also in 2014, NOVUS formalised its Sustainability Strategy, based on stakeholder feedback and business capabilities. The strategy intrudes into three key areas of operations where NOVUS can deliver the most sustainable benefit in the next five years: products, processes and people.


On the topic of innovation, Scott Hine, NOVUS' chief innovation officer, warned that consumers would have to pay more for the price of innovations. Feeding an increasing world population will become a tough job, given the limited arable land left and decreasing supply of water. The food production system will have to produce 70% more, he said, so there will be a need for more efficient system. He said one way to improve the situation is the provision of more innovative animal nutrition solutions to the protein producers. "NOVUS develops solutions and technologies to help our customers, and our customers are those who are serving the consumers", he stressed.


Hine said NOVUS was looking at other opportunities in organic trace mineral production, even if "we have a good product" already, referring to Mintrex which, among others, increases bone strength and reduces chances of infection over competitors, improving animal welfare.


The journalists, who came from various parts of the world, listened to Dr. Ajay Bhoyar, senior manager, global poultry marketing; Dr. Nasser Odetallah; and Eduardo Galo, managing director, North America, who shared stories from the field. They highlighted NOVUS' animal-health products as proven solutions to problems met by animal raisers.


The media men were also given a tour of the NOVUS global headquarters including 10 research labs and other facilities for employees such as a fitness center.


The tour of NOVUS' 95-hectare Green Acres Farm the following day, June 17, capped the 25th Anniversary Media Jam.



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