October 7, 2015


Leiber: Leading the pack in natural feeds


Leiber GmbH's 61 years of brewers' yeast competency.




For people in the poultry and livestock industry, the name Leiber has almost become synonymous with yeast and yeast-derived products related to animal nutrition, particularly natural growth promoters of poultry animals, swine and ruminants. 


Leiber GmbH was in fact founded by Franz Leiber 61 years ago in Germany as a brewers' yeast processing company, at a time when the brewers' yeast as source of vitamin B complex for animals was little-researched.


In 1964, 10 years after its founding, the company introduced its patented gentle drying process, a breakthrough both for Leiber GmbH and for brewers' yeast in animal feed.


Soon after, brewers' yeast earned recognition and importance in the field of animal nutrition. At present, Leiber maintains two spray drying facilities — the second one having just opened last year - to meet the increasing demand for brewers' yeast products for animal feed.


While Leiber is also into other businesses such as food, cosmetics, biotechnology and pharma, animal nutrition takes the biggest pie in terms of volume and turnover, says Nikolaus Jungbluth, business unit director of Leiber Animal Nutrition. Animal nutrition is seen to achieve significant growth in the next five years, he adds.


Remarkable development


Jungbluth says Leiber's animal nutrition department saw a remarkable development in the past 10-15 years. "During this period Leiber has changed from a Germany-based, local-acting company into a dynamic market-oriented company which is now active in more than 40 countries of the world", he tells Feed Business Worldwide in an interview.


In 2003, Leiber opened a production plant in Poland, which enabled the company to serve better its customers in Central and Eastern Europe. At the same time, Jungbluth says, "we were able to introduce a new technology to Leiber - the spray drying of brewers' yeast".


In 2009, Leiber opened its next plant in Russia, particularly in the prospering Kaluga region, which is about 140 kilometres southeast of Moscow. Since then, Leiber has been active in servicing Russia's feed industry with its brewers' yeast and brewers' yeast-derived products and specialties.


The growing demand for yeast products has been fuelled by a shift away from antimicrobial growth promoters (AGPs). Jungbluth notes that healthy nutrition of humans has recently focused on the meat they eat. More and more consumers demand that food animals be fed with more natural and healthy ingredients.


McDonald's USA, for instance, said that by 2017, it would be using chickens that are completely raised without antibiotics used as human medicine, as well as offering milk from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormone rbST, to "meet what consumers truly want".  Other companies such as Wal-Mart and Tyson are tracking the same direction. Some countries, Jungbluth informs, either ban or have initiated the process of banning AGPs. These include the US and countries in the EU.


"Due to the demonstrated and scientifically proven excellent effects on health and performance of farm animals, yeast and yeast-derived specialty products are now widely used in almost all modern feeding concepts for all kind of species", Jungbluth adds. But he says that the producers of NGPs, especially yeasts and yeast-derived products, had to invest much to demonstrate and prove that such products are as effective as the AGPs.


'Replace a lot of AGPs'


Today, Jungbluth says that based on discussions with "our customers and business partners there is no doubt that Leiber brewers' yeast products have the potential to replace a lot of AGPs-the biggest concern is mostly just the price".


Jungbluth stresses that Leiber has to sustain and enhance the customers' and their partners' patronage of its animal-nutrition products. Thus, it "entirely reorganised the sales and marketing approach and completely reworked and modernised the product portfolio and the positioning for the different groups of products in the past 12–18 months". Leiber has also hired new highly qualified people and built up so-called competence teams for different species, such as teams for aquaculture and livestock including ruminants, poultry and swine.


"The new organisational structure helps us to support and cover the different requirements and needs of our customers by addressing the different topics with our experts who are on par with our customers' experts, e.g. scientific support, on one hand, and marketing and sales support, on the other hand".


Part of building up the company's customer satisfaction is its new "partner login" area in its website, which "enables us to spread new information such as new trials and/or scientific reports much faster than in former times", according to Jungbluth. The partner login, which was launched last July, "right from the beginning got a lot of attention and positive feedback because our customers highly appreciate all the detailed information concerning our portfolio available regardless when and where they need it", Jungbluth adds.


Leiber's distinguishing factors


In the interview, Jungbluth points out that what distinguishes Leiber among producers of NGPs is in the use of raw material. "We only work with 'real' brewers' yeast sourced from breweries which are committed to the so-called German Purity Law (for beer brewing) from 1516, which means they only brew their beer using the ingredients barley or wheat, hops, water and yeast" without any additives, enzymes, sugars, taste enhancers and antimicrobials.


The result, he continues, "is a clean, pure and natural brewers' yeast enriched with the polyphenols from the hops, which Leiber further processes" in its production plants. "Due to our well-organised raw material management, 100% of our products are GMO [genetically modified organism]-free approved by the VLOG Certificate (a certification scheme for GMO-free feeds)".


Quality management is another factor that distinguishes and differentiate Leiber from its competitors, according to Jungbluth, as he cites other certified management systems granted to the company, including the German Q&S acknowledged by GMP+, ISO 22000 and ISO 50000, among others.


Leiber's specialty products cover a wide portfolio for different species that range from pet animals to horses to fish and crustaceans to farmed animals (poultry [broilers, layers, turkey, etc.), beef and dairy cattle, piglets and fattening pigs. Its functionalities are equally broad covering performance (daily weight gain, FCR, milk yield, milk quality, etc.); gut health and digestion; quality of claves/hoofs, coat, skin; support and relief of the immune system; binding and discharge of toxins; and palatability.


In terms of customers, Leiber caters to feed mill, premix producers, palatant producers and producers for dry and/or wet pet food, among others.


Tailor-made solutions


Jungbluth points out that if a customer has a need for any special solution that is missing in the market, Leiber's competence teams can develop individual, tailor-made solutions. "The members of our different competence teams discuss with our customers the purpose of the feed they want to design, the available raw materials they can or would like to use, and the effects they want to achieve with their target consumers. Based on their (customers') information we can recommend the products out of our portfolio which best cover those needs combined with the best cost-benefit-ratio/ROI", he explains.


Despite the fact that Leiber brewers' yeast products already covers a broad range of present and future needs in the industries, the company sees no room for complacency. "We still see a lot of room for further development", Jungbluth says. For this reason, he adds, Leiber has just decided to further increase its spending for R&D and to expand the R&D team.


Jungbluth sees the biggest potential for new products in the field of aquaculture and poultry, along with pet food.


"In terms of regions we would like to further enhance our presence mainly in South and Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region with focus on aquaculture and poultry, and we would like to step into the business in Australia and New Zealand for all kind of businesses", Jungbluth says, adding that these regions are expected to outperform Europe and the US in the next decade.


At present, Leiber has two offices in China, with one focused on the pig business and the other on dairy and beef cattle business. "Both companies work with own local sales and marketing teams and regional sub-distributors so that we are able to cover more or less the whole country and all layers of the businesses", Jungbluth says.


Despite its global reach, Leiber GmbH prefers to retain its "family-owned business" aura with its beginning traced to the northern part of Germany. "Therefore the markets in Western Europe will always be important to us and from a marketing angle we will further focus and stress the 'Made in Germany' tag", Jungbluth stresses.
Leiber's yeast extraction plant
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