FEED Business Worldwide - December, 2011
Norel Animal Nutrition: "The possibilities are endless."
Agribusiness needs to become more cost efficient, environmentally friendly and flexible in its raw material sourcing. Mathieu Cortyl, Norel Animal Nutrition’s general manager for Asia Pacific discusses how Norel answers these challenges and its open-sky, no limits approach to innovation and growth.
What are Norel's achievements 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 in Asia: 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 do you consider Norel's key competitive strengths?
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 their 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% to 5% of our annual 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, 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 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.
Which of Norel's various nutritional products 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), 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 in the application of our products to 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 latest 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 preventing 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 EU legislation and consumers 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 encourages us to pursue our efforts.
Where  are the new opportunities and 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 has been working on those subjects for many years already, as we have experienced similar requests and expectations in our home market, Europe.
How does Norel's innovation evolve with the 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, 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.
Norel's new logo resembles the Yin Yang symbol. Does the Yin Yang concept influence Norel's approach to 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 that protects the environment and promotes 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 waste 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.
Are high feed grain prices considered a challenge or opportunity 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 less serious competitors cannot compete with us. We play in two different leagues, and the customer is able to appreciate that.
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