INTERVIEW: Nuscience is on a Mission- Challenge, Change, Care
Challenge: we live in a world that will soon be occupied by over 9 billion people, a world whose resources are being run down at an unsustainable rate. Change will and must come; innovation is needed to provide science-based, practical solutions, and commercial growth will allow these solutions to reach an ever-increasing portion of the globe. But sustainable solutions require care: respect for animal and human health and welfare.
Challenge, Change, Care. In the words of Jan-Jeroen explains why we are in the business, and reflects our Group’s vision, mission, and actions.” With an impressive list of projects—researching antibiotic replacements and alternative raw materials, closing the productivity gap, improving delivery systems, or simply making sure that its own production operations are as sustainable and waste-free as possible— Nuscience has demonstrated that Challenge, Change, Care is more than simply a sales slogan; it is a philosophy underpinning the company’s entire range of activities.
Like that of the Animal Task Force, a European publicprivate initiative to which it subscribes, Nuscience’s com mitment to sustainability begins with the idea that animal and human health are profoundly connected, and both must be taken into account when reimagining food animal production. Central to this concept is, of course, the replacement of antibiotic growth
promoters. Nuscience COO Katrien Deschepper underlines how growth of Aromabiotic®, Nuscience’s medium chain fatty acid marketed as a replacement for AGPs, has taken off on all corners of the globe. “The breakthrough of Aromabiotic® occurred in 2006, when antibiotic growth promoters were banned in the EU. But today, Aromabiotic® is sold all over the world, including in many countries where antibiotic growth promoters are still allowed.” The product’s value lies in its ability to combat the high infection pressure which is nearly ubiquitous in some animal production systems. “Aromabiotic® works very well in these conditions: it helps lower the infection pressure and promotes the health of the animal. As a result, the need for antibiotics as well as the risk of antibiotic resistance is lowered.” It must be said that Nuscience has not paused to rest on its laurels in the matter of antibiotic resistance; the company remains deeply invested in the research front, and is currently diversifying its offer in order to propose solutions for the aquaculture industry. “There is an urgent need for natural solutions to reduce the use of antibiotics in shrimp production,” explains Mrs. Deschepper, and Nuscience sees itself well prepared to meet the challenge.
Indeed, many of Nuscience’s research fronts focus on finding natural solutions to some of the most vexing challenges of the feed industry. The company is active in exploring the use of insect protein through its engagement with Proteinsect, an international partnership bringing together 12 partners from China, Africa, and Europe. “We have a leading role in the work package that deals with insect protein processing technologies and livestock feeding trials in poultry, pigs and fish,” says Mrs. Deschepper. “This projects fits very well in our vision that scarcity of raw materials is one of the major challenges of the feed industry with increasing demand of the growing world population for animal proteins.”
However, better management of scarce raw materials will require closing the productivity gap which exists between animal production systems around the world. “In Belgium we need 3.5 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of pork meat; in China 4.2 kg of feed is needed,” Mrs. Deschepper notes. “If we manage to realize a productivity jump in China to the level of Belgium, we will need 54 million fewer tons of feed, or else we can produce 13 million
extra tons of pork with the same amount of feed. A concrete effort of Nuscience is the expansion of its technical team in China, with experts in all
disciplines needed to increase the productivity of the farms.” Nuscience, it should be noted, recently incorporated a subsidiary in Singapore to serve as
the group’s operational base for the Asian region, covering all of Asia-Pacific except for China, which is covered by Nuscience’s Chinese operations. The new subsidiary will be responsible for sales and marketing, as well as technical and customer service. In the western hemisphere, Nuscience has also been actively expanding its presence in Brazil, with the acquisition of Nutrientes do Brasil in 2014 and Nutrifarma in 2015. Today, the company has a well-trained Health4U and Nutrition4U team in Brazil to assist customers, and operates 4 local factories.
The company also recognizes that successfully changing the animal feed market is not only a question of discovering innovative new substances
for animal feed; it is also a question of improving the delivery systems to ensure that the needs of individual animals are being met through diet and
care. Nuscience is especially active in the field of precision livestock farming, designing nutritional concepts targeting animals in specific need of
health support. Mrs. Deschepper illustrates how this can contribute to improved animal and human health: “PLF technology enables a farmer to
individually identify under-performing animals (affected by illness or low birth weight) using sensor technology, and to digitally label them for individual tailor-made treatment. This results in more effective follow-up of individual animal and overall herd health status, less antibiotic use, and subsequently less antibiotic resistance in the long run, promoting human health.”
The “Challenge, Change, Care” formula was introduced at the official grand opening of Nuscience’s new production plant in Drongen, Belgium last October. The plant’s design embodied the “Challenge, Change, Care” principles with an omnipresent attention to waste reduction and sustainability. In addition to employing sustainable materials, optimal insulation, and natural light, Mrs. Deschepper outlines how clever engineering allowed for reduced energy consumption even in the production process itself: “Energy is saved by transporting a raw material only one time to the top of the building, after which the process is completely gravitational.” The plant also represents an important change in terms of process. “Both liquid and solid raw materials can be accepted, mixed and
supplied as a finished product (liquid or solid). Fully automatic dosing of raw materials makes the – previously necessary – production step of intermediate mixtures redundant,” explains Mrs. Deschepper. Extreme care is taken when it comes to quality control; the high level of automation allows Nuscience to perform more and more specific checks, and new installations ensure that carry-over and contamination are minimized, according to the COO.
Innovation—the change part of the formula—also begins at home. Nuscience has dedicated much attention to the “Valley of Death,” the long, challenging journey from research-based discoveries to products that can be commercialized on the market. In the words of Mrs. Deschepper: “Nuscience bridges the technological “Valley of Death” by applying the Open Innovation Principle giving our researchers access to nonconventional technologies and services from different industries. This enables Nuscience to translate or extend existing technologies from complementary industries within the food, pharma and bio-based industries into solutions for the feed industry facilitating uptake of research findings into
the market. In case the “Valley of Death” is an economic one, Nuscience constructs added-value-chains together with other stakeholders within the aimed field of interest, including both sociological and environmental ones. This evolves into a clear win-win situation between all stakeholders and a sustainable co-sharing of research outcomes into winning products,
concepts and services.”
Sustainability and transformative technology serve as the foundation for Nuscience’s approach to production, its research objectives, its investment in public-private initiatives, and of course its portfolio development. Indeed, as Mrs. Deschepper says, “Challenge, Change, Care” is the expression of the reason of our existence!”
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