December 22, 2015


Hamlet Protein: A DNA of creative soy protein solutions


Increasing agricultural productivity, public health and sustainability concerns, are just a few mega trends shaping this global specialist of soy protein solutions for animals.


by Ngai Meng CHAN



Increasing feed efficiency is the unmistakable aim of modern-day farming operations. Along with improving the digestibility of proteins present in common feedstuffs like soybean, the feed industry is also constantly looking at ways to reduce the levels of anti-nutritional factors naturally found in feedstuffs.


"Proteins have become so much more in the focus over the past 10 to 20 years as both farmers and feed manufacturers have become increasingly aware of the rewards from feeding highly digestible proteins, particularly to very young animals," points out Mr. Søren Bank, chief commercial officer of Hamlet Protein.


According to Mr. Bank, the company's products are based on a unique technology to tailor and increase the digestibility of soy protein.


Its flagship product HP 300 is a global bestseller in over 50 countries, for ample reason.


Numerous feeding trials across 10 countries, conducted by external partners, have tested the effect of HP 300 in feed for weaning pigs. Analysis of the results confirms what Hamlet Protein's customers have long experienced – feed containing HP 300 is more efficient than feed supplemented with other soy or animal-based proteins.


Moreover, the product is low in anti-nutritional factors that are known to have a negative impact on feed digestibility and nutrient absorption.


With the commercial success of HP 300, Hamlet Protein is moving forward with the launch of its latest products HP 800 Booster and HP AviStart that address the specific needs of piglets and very young broilers respectively.


For some customers who are already supplementing their feed with amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins, Mr. Bank comments, "The majority of amino acids comes from the protein in the feed ingredients. Mono-amino acids are only supplementing the ingredient basis to achieve the correct balance. As our products have a higher digestibility than many other ingredients, the need for supplementation is reduced and the utilisation of ingredient-based amino acids is increased, reducing the overall cost of the feed as well as improving animal health."


Expressing further confidence in the company's protein business, Mr. Bank goes so far as to say that there may be potential in every market, regardless of the developmental phase which the market is generally seen to be in. "We do not differentiate in the classical way between high-growth and slow or no-growth markets. As we are dedicated to the very early stages of the animal's life cycle, it is more important to us, how the livestock industry in a given market sees the feeding of highly digestible diets in the early phases. So we may very well show strong growth in a so-called mature market," he stresses.


Besides issues on digestibility, feed efficiency, and other economic-related concerns, according to the company's surveys, the availability of reliable and safe protein sources are also major concerns for its customers. The industry will not forget the mad cow disease scare from meat and bone meal in the 1990s.


"There is a change in feed consumption pattern away from animal proteins, for e.g. fish meal, to plant-based proteins. This trend is not only driven by cost concerns, but also by an increased focus on feed safety, supply safety and sustainability of the source of proteins," Mr. Bank sums up.


But there are several other concerns which the industry has seen in recent years, not least the reduction of the use of antibiotic growth promoters, and the increasing emphasis on animal welfare.


"We believe that the way our products are designed, produced, documented and used help reduce these concerns," Mr. Bank highlights.


He explains: "A big overall concern is: how to maintain animal performance and health, secure economic production, while complying with regulations on medication levels and environmental pollution (for e.g. harmful minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus and zinc from animal waste)?


A simple answer would be to use products with a high degree of nutrient utilisation (in terms of protein digestibility, fermentation rate of dietary fibre, absorption of micro-minerals such as zinc, etc.), so as to maintain production and profitability levels while complying with regulations and meeting public concerns.


Specifically, increased nitrogen digestibility in the small intestine leads to less nitrogen passing into the large intestine, which in turn reduces growth of pathogenic bacteria.


And high fermentation rate of dietary fibre and slow initial passage rate of feed from the stomach produce short or medium-chain fatty acids which improve the health of the small intestine and absorption of nutrients."


Among its more recent developments, in 2012, Hamlet Protein opened its first production facility outside of Denmark in the United States, which manufactures products for both piglets, CMR and broiler chickens. The company had since doubled its capacity in 2014 and will in early 2016 add another 50% to its capacity.


Currently, about 15% of the company's sales come from North America, 65% from Greater Europe, and 20% from Asia.


Most recently, the search for a new chairman began after Altor Fund IV and Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division acquired Hamlet Protein in September 2015, leading to the appointment of Kjeld Johannesen, former CEO of meat processor Danish Crown, as chairman of the board, effective January 1, 2016.


CEO Søren Munch said in a press release statement: "Kjeld Johannesen brings a valuable combination of Danish knowhow and a global mindset. With his strong focus on internationalisation, he has built one of Europe's leading food companies."


"Danish Crown has also given him a rare understanding of the challenges farmers face when optimising the efficiency of their pig production. Many of them are the same challenges that Hamlet Protein help farmers solve using tailored ingredients for young animal feed."


Mr. Bank provides additional assurance, saying, "Hamlet Protein's two new owners are industrious organisations with several past and present investments in industry. Following the formation of a new board of directors, the work to set the strategic direction for the coming years is ongoing. Hamlet Protein clearly will stay committed to promoting health and efficiency in animal production through our functional products and outstanding service."


Indeed, Hamlet Protein has very much been a service-oriented company. The company works closely with its business partners to make its feeding advisory service available to their customers along the same lines as it does for its direct-serviced customers.


Mr. Bank adds that the company carefully evaluates its market entry and sales channels in each individual case and to date it is working with a range of over 30 highly-qualified business partners in distributing its products globally.


Hamlet Protein's feeding advisory service could be in the form of recommending specific diet changes or optimising an existing blend. Joint participation in specific feeding trials is another example, while sharing its knowledge via its e-newsletters and "Feed Your Brain" seminars are yet others. "It all depends on the individual company and market," points out Mr. Bank.


He nicely sums up Hamlet Protein's modus operandi. "For us it is not about just delivering a good product, but the whole package of technical advisory service, strong documentation of our products and a commitment to feed safety overall, no matter the product. This approach will apply to any present and future product lines – it is simply in our DNA as an organisation!"

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