October 5, 2011
Executive Talk: Norel - "We continue to grow, the possibilities are endless."
An eFeedLink Exclusive
Keeping in mind the challenges ahead, Norel Animal Nutrition believes that it is increasingly important for the industry to become more cost efficient, more respectful of the environment, and source for alternative raw materials. In the following interview, Mathieu Cortyl, General Manager Asia Pacific, shares about the company's growth, and efforts in improving animal nutrition.
What are the milestones of Norel in the Asia Pacific market?
Norel was founded in 1980 and we have always been related to Asia because of our requirements for palm fatty acids which we import from Malaysia. As far as exports to Asia are concerned, we started to be interested in exploring opportunities end of 1993 when we sent a veterinarian for one year in Hong Kong. We then started working in a few countries such as Philippines and Thailand.
Later, we partnered with a company based in Hong Kong for sales of certain additives into China and in 2001 we also started the sales of fats in China. Since then, we have been building up our distributor network and are today active in 17 countries, namely Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. There are three important years for Norel: 2008 is when we opened our representative office in Singapore, 2010 when we opened the liaison office in India and 2011 because we converted the Singapore representative office into a Private Limited.
What are the key competitive strengths established by Norel over the years?
I think the two most important features of Norel are that we are producers and we invest a lot in research. Being producers mean we know what we are doing, and we can guarantee the quality of our products from the production until the end user.
Unfortunately, many players who have appeared in the market in the past few years are just traders. Even if they sell under their own brand, they cannot trace their products like we do, and this is becoming more and more important nowadays. The second point is the fact that we invest 3-5% of our turnover every year into research and development. This provides the guarantee for our customers that the products they get from us have been tested, and that their efficacy has been demonstrated.
What is Norel's marketing strategy for the Asia Pacific market?
Our aim is to be close to the customers and understand their needs and identify the market trends quickly. Therefore, we pay a lot of attention to having efficient communication with our distributors. We strongly believe that cooperation with local partners who know their market and have the right contacts in the industry is the way to go. It is not in the intention of Norel to have our own local sales team in each country. On the contrary, we prefer to focus on what we know we do the best, develop and manufacture quality products.
Among Norel's various nutritional products, which product has grown most quickly in Asia?
As a matter of fact, the growth of our portfolio in the past years has been quite homogeneous. We see especially good developments for our Gustor range (products based on sodium butyrate) as well as for our organic trace minerals, Biomet and Glymet (chelates of Methionine and Glycine, respectively) and our different flavours (Fluidarom and Apetenzyma) and sweeteners (Dulcoapetente).
We also continue to see a positive trend for our feed safety products such as the Funginat (mould inhibitors), Salmonat (feed sanitizers) and Anilox (antioxidants).
Last but not least, we get encouraging developments with our range of probiotics even if the market is probably not ready yet in most of the countries, as people still rely a lot on antibiotics. Besides, we also enjoyed a significant growth of the application of our products in the aquaculture sector, which is a relatively new market for us.
Which product do you expect to grow most quickly in the future?
We definitely believe that the products that help to maintain a healthy gut and at the same time improve feed efficiency are going to become more and more popular in Asia. In Norel, we have developed efficient and cost effective solutions such as Gustor (products based on sodium butyrate), as well as Ecobiol and Fecinor (probiotics) which improve feed digestibility and absorption of nutrients, and at the same time have a positive effect on gut micro flora. The last addition to our range is Natesse, a very exciting product based on a combination of sodium butyrate and carefully selected essential oils protected by a fat matrix. Natesse is particularly helpful in the case of enteric diseases in poultry.
All these products also seem to have beneficial effects on the immune response of the animals and for instance, reduce mortality. However, how do they increase resistance to diseases is not clear yet and we are investigating this. In my opinion, there is not a simple explanation as those additives act at different levels. For instance, by controlling pathogens, we improve the health status and at the same time make the feed more efficient.
In Europe, we already have a strong experience with those concepts as both legislation and consumer are requesting to follow that trend. We believe that sooner or later, it will also be the case in Asia. As a matter of fact, some key players in Asia are already using our products with good results, which encourage us to pursue our efforts.
Where would you see new opportunities for advances in animal nutrition?
As we all know, there are many challenges ahead for our industry. Being more cost efficient, more respectful of the environment and looking for alternative raw materials are among the main priorities, together with improving animal health and welfare through nutrition. Norel is working on those subjects for many years already as we have experienced similar requests and expectations in our home market, Europe.
How does Norel innovate in tandem with the evolving needs of the global livestock sector?
Norel has become associated with dynamism and innovation, and also with quality and performance, thanks to our ISO, GMP and FAMI-QS certifications. We have two research laboratories for biotechnological, chemical and biological studies, and an animal test station with swine and avian facilities for the development and control of our products and solutions, including digestibility cages.
Furthermore, our laboratories and experimental activities are reinforced with research agreements and joint projects with universities, consultants, and recognised national and international research institutes. This allows us to be flexible in different kinds of trials, and to better answer the needs of specific countries. With this strategy, and a close communication with our partners in the market, we believe we can indeed answer to the needs of our customers, but also the requirements of our final customer, the consumer.
The new logo of Norel resembles the Yin Yang symbol. In what ways does the Yin Yang concept influence Norel's approach towards product development?
To understand the origin of our new logo, you must know some of our history. In 2001 Norel S.A. merged its activities with Nature S.A., a company specialised in the production of flavours and sweeteners, acidifiers, antioxidants and mould inhibitors. We then became known in the market as "Norel & Nature"; at that time, it was important for us to keep the name Nature because our activities and products were different, but at the same time very complementary. The new logo of Norel takes into account this heritage by combining the two Ns of Norel and Nature. Indeed, together, they resemble the famous Yin Yang symbol and remind us that the two entities now make one.
When it comes to product development, we always keep in mind our objective, which is to contribute to the optimisation of resources in a natural way, protecting the environment and the animal welfare. Our customers expect that when using our additives, they will improve their profitability by reducing their production costs. Meanwhile, as we offer solutions that improve digestive functions, this also offers dividends not only in animal health, but also in increased feed efficiency, reducing the wastes and protecting the environment.
To fully understand the meaning of our logo, you also need to know that the original meaning of Norel was the Spanish phrase "No reconocemos limites" literally meaning "we don't acknowledge limits", thus demonstrating Norel's philosophy: The sky's the limit or, in other words, the possibilities are endless. Our new logo also represents the infinity symbol, a reference to the original meaning of Norel: we continue to grow, the possibilities are endless.
With high feed grain prices, are there more challenges than opportunities, or do the opportunities outweigh the challenges for Norel?
High feed prices are clearly a challenge for us. The feed mill or the farmer is facing a severe situation and a quick decision can be to remove the feed additives from the formula to save costs. Hence, our efforts have always been to stand by our customers in looking for the best nutritional solutions and best possible ways to reduce their production costs. This is where a technical approach is very important, to show the benefits the customer can expect from our products. This situation also gives us opportunities as the less serious competitors cannot compete. We play in two different leagues, and the customer is able to appreciate that.
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