October 29, 2013
Merial: Rising with Asia's poultry sector
An eFeedLink Executive
The avian division of Animal health company, Merial is increasing its Asian presence, with the inaugural Merial Avian Forum and localised vaccination solutions among other initiatives. Jérôme Baudon, Director and Head of Global Strategic Marketing, Avian Franchise and Harry Picard, Head of Asia Global Strategic Marketing for the Avian Franchise, tells eFeedLink what the future of the region holds for Merial's Avian division.
by Geraldine EE
Jérôme Baudon, Director and Head
of Global Strategic Marketing, Avian Franchise

Harry Picard, Merial's Head of Asia
Global Strategic Marketing for the Avian Franchise
Can you tell us more about Merial's geographical focus?
There is a change within Merial, since Merial is now the animal health division of Sanofi, a big push towards emerging markets.
In particular, Asia is a region that has been very successful for Merial. The foundation in Asia has been built since 35 years ago and we have been growing with our key customers in Asia. We are here to bring them innovative health solution in terms of products and services and we want to continue to accompany their growth.
Which are Merial's key markets in Asia?
According to Rabobank's Nan-Dirk Mulder, Asia is a vibrant region for poultry meat and egg production. Between 2010 and 2030, Asia will drive 70% of global meat demand growth and 75% of global egg demand growth, with countries like China leading the pack of Asian countries, including India and Indonesia.
Indeed, China, as the leading poultry producer by volume, is Merial's top market.  Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Thailand are important markets, as they have crossed the threshold of producing 1 billion birds and rank among the top 10 producers worldwide.
Moving forward, we will focus on expanding the Chinese market and to grow the Indian business, particularly in biological.
What are some of your key developments in Asia?
In Asia, we will continue to capitalise on the success of our vectored vaccine, Vaxxitek® HVT+IBD. We have registered Vaxxitek® HVT+IBD in Taiwan and Malaysia and the commercial launch will follow. 
In addition, while in-ovo administered vaccines are already being used successfully by Merial's customers across the globe, Merial will introduce its Brazilian in-ovo device, Ovo-Jector, in Asia in the latter half of 2014.
What is the company's approach towards R&D in the region?
Our focus on emerging markets is also translated into our approach towards research and development. We are bringing solutions and new products to our customers on a regional basis. While our global R&D focuses on products that fit global needs, we also adopt a regional/local approach by providing local adaptation and proxy innovation.
The new research and development centre in Shanghai is set up in response to the demand for R&D to develop new products for emerging Asian markets and for Merial to adopt a regional approach for local epidemiology. One of the reasons why China was chosen is the wealth of regional scientific and technical community in this cluster, from China to Japan to other academic institutions in the Asian region. In the next three to four years, the new centre will be the main R&D centre in Asia.
We invested in R&D in China, as we did in Latin America, with the mind-set to bring products that are tailor-made for the local market.
Can you share with us the function of the product development centre in Singapore and its role in the region?
The product development centre (PDC) in Singapore plays a very important role in product support, life cycle management and regulatory affairs for the region. Testing, trials and subclinical studies are done at the PDC to support our products in the field and support claims for registration of new products in Asia. The facility in Singapore is a hub for us to to import biological material or simply exchange biological material with other countries in the region. PDC activities are strategic for the development of Merial avian business in Asia.
Government support and regulation in place in Singapore provide the framework to bring solutions to farmers in the region. The centre in Singapore, which was established since 1996, will continue to play a key role in supporting registration of Merial's products in the Asia region.
Is this framework adequately supported at a local context?
Beside our R&D centre in China and the product development centre in Singapore, Merial's vaccine technology service (VTS) competence centre supports our key accounts, distributors and customers across the region. The company recently launched a VTS competence centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this year. The centre focuses on product training on equipment operation and maintenance, vaccine handling and mixing, audit of vaccination processes, equipment sanitation and maintenance and serves as a regional logistic hub for equipment and parts supply.
Why did Merial decide to bring the Merial Avian Forum to Asia?
Our field is predominately technically driven and we believe the result will speak for itself. But we also want to show what we have been doing successfully and bring value to our customers. For us, it is important to give back to the poultry industry, through knowledge, education, cross-fertilisation of veterinary experience globally and across regions in the different markets. We are a global company, so we can share experience coming from Europe, or US and bring them to Asia and vice versa.
The aim of the Avian Forum is to share, partner and facilitate the exchange of information among our customers, our team of experts, the academic and scientific community. From the activity at the forum, we can see our customers are hungry to learn.
Based on the discussion at the recently-concluded forum, what are some takeaways of key trends of the poultry sector in Asia?
Increasingly, vaccination is moving from the field to the hatchery. In line with that, Merial is continuing to improve its vaccination technology and services, including automated in-ovo vaccination in the hatchery.
In addition, Professor David Hughes from the Imperial College London, UK spoke about 'Branding in Agricultural Products', which conveys a simple message: more and more consumers are going for value-added or processed products. Further processing for increased convenience also ensures brands are better differentiated and that products command a premium price. Indeed, we see a decline in live bird markets and an increase in processed chicken in the poultry business model.
Furthermore, Asia is consolidating. We have to bring in experts to address such transformation, in line with the needs of the region.
What can we expect from the forum next year?
We pay particular attention to content, being a fact-driven, technically and scientifically-driven company. While we focus on poultry health, we also understand that in poultry operation, many variables impact the productivity and performance of our customers. We will continue to find experts to present on a wide array of topics that are relevant to poultry producers and concepts that are useful to their operation. Hence, we may expand the content to include feed, management, equipment and genetics.
At the end of the day, our goal is to bring solutions and information to our customers so that they can improve their performance, productivity and return on investment. The next event will be bigger, more diverse, with representation from the whole region.
Merial SAS headquarters at Lyon, in France
A Merial researcher conducting test for vaccine using specific
pathogen free (SPF) eggs at Product Development Centre (PDC) in Singapore
Preparing cell cultures for testing at Merial's
 Singapore Product Development Centre (PDC)

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