December 6, 2022


Phytobiotics' Kurt Wegleitner: Leading a based-on-science approach to both global and local feed markets

An eFeedLink Exclusive Talk


Phytobiotics Futterzusatzstoffe GmbH, a global leader in the production and distribution of feed additives and organic trace minerals for poultry, swine and ruminants, started in Germany more than two decades ago.


The company's first product is based on plant-derived isoquinoline alkaloids and marketed under the Sangrovit brand, Phytobiotics managing director Kurt Wegleitner tells eFeedLink.


"Research on these active ingredients had started — long before the start of Phytobiotics — at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna (Austria), when it became clear that the use of antibiotics will be fading out," Wegleitner says. "And it was the visionary and entrepreneurial spirit of Dr. Hermann Roth, founder and owner of the company, to get this idea into practice."


Phytobiotics has since grown in prominence, with Sangrovit as the flagship product within its range of feed additives.


Wegleitner shares more about the company and its business, and offers his views on other subjects — including the rising trend of alternative meat.


Are all of Phytobiotics' offerings organic?


Kurt Wegleitner: All our products are "based on science", which is a strong belief within our company and our motto. We believe that, in the long run, strong technical know-how is needed for developing sustainable products.

Any such product also needs to be cost-efficient for the industry. Hence, we are always working to show the effectiveness and efficiency of our products to our partners. When it comes to our offerings, we want to be the logical choice for clients in the feed industry.


Indeed, a lot of our products are organic-certified, but, to date, the majority of our business is still focused on conventional products used in animal husbandry.


We understand that, as managing director of Phytobiotics, you are developing "growth opportunities globally". What do you see for Phytobiotics in terms of tapping into such opportunities?


Kurt Wegleitner: I have joined a global group of companies that are already growing on an impressive level. So I see it as my calling to continue the growth in a sustainable way.


We believe in growth opportunities for the Sangrovit product range; we also see very fast growth for other product groups worldwide.


There is no doubt that we believe in more opportunities for growth as our product range is fit for the future while our innovation pipeline is producing new ideas and projects.


In 2021, Phytobiotics invested in a production facility and build an additive and premix plant in Jiangsu Province, China. The company also has an office in Bangkok, Thailand, to coordinate business activities in Thailand, India, Indonesia and other Asian countries. Please share with us the presence of Phytobiotics' operations in Asia.


Kurt Wegleitner: In Asia, we have two regional hubs, one in Thailand and the other in China, as well as a network of our own entities and distributors in almost every country in the region.


Being near our customers helps us to understand the needs of the industry, and it helps us to provide the right solution depending on those needs.


Additionally, we are now investing in regional production centers. This will help us to diversify the impact of risk, reduce transportation costs and limit our transport-based carbon footprint.


How does Phyobiotics respond to competition from other like-minded botanical solution providers in the feed and livestock sectors?


The market for products like the types that Phytobiotics creates has grown quite rapidly in recent times. We think that we have an early 'mover' advantage as our product was developed at the beginning of the 1990s and has been in the market for a long time.


The more producers follow our lead, the better it is for the industry. So, we don't mind competition; we do embrace it.


With rising feed prices, how would you get feed and livestock producers to stay on the sustainable course that Phytobiotics offer?


Cost-effectiveness is a core, logical and understandable demand of the industry, whether in good or in bad times. We know this and we challenge ourselves to stay cost-effective.


As such, our products are constantly monitored to ensure the best market fit.


We believe strongly in "think global, act local".


Producers around the world would find a way to utilise available resources in the best possible way.


Recent challenges such as COVID-19, the energy crisis, the war in Ukraine and high inflation rates have made it obvious that we must become more flexible and agile in the way we work.


We at Phytobiotics understand that "one fits all" does not work and as such, we are adjusting our offerings to local demand. Thus, we have managed to become a market leader in developed markets such as Europe, Brazil and the United States as well as in less industrialised markets, like Africa and some parts of Asia.


Our teams will continue to work together with our partners on a local level. Hence, we depend on both global and local networks instead of a centralised corporate structure.


In today's livestock production, producers are still using antibiotic growth promoters to mitigate costs. What are your views on antibiotic use in livestock production?


Antibiotics have been around for years for a good reason. We don't see that antibiotics will disappear from animal husbandry.


However, the misuse or overuse of antibiotics has led to resistance in animals. We believe in the prudent use of antibiotics to treat diseases and in the smart use of functional and well-proven natural feed additives.


Alternative meat is gaining traction in a world constantly pressed to adopt sustainable means of food production and consumption. In your opinion, would producers of such products take market share from traditional meat producers?


Alternative meat, whether it is plant-based or lab-grown, will play a certain role in the future.


Trends like vegetarianism, veganism and progressive ‘wokeness' sentiments are here to stay, and we take them very seriously. However, the views of their supporters do not reflect actual market share.


Also, we are seeing disposable incomes growing in many countries and, thus, the demand for meat will only increase.


- Terry Tan, eFeedLink

Video >

Follow Us