“Your readers should think of Anpario as a team of experts, so metaphorically speaking, heart surgeons, neurosurgeons, oncologists, etc. rather than a general practitioner.”
Interview / Cemalettin Kanas
Every company has a different story. Some are established and developed with the vision of one person, while others emerge and grow as the product of a common mind. While some focus on domestic, others may adopt and think export oriented approach. There are also those who progress towards their goal through strategic acquisitions, of course. The story of the additive company Anpario, which exports to more than 80 countries, fits perfectly into the last portraiture. This is exactly why Richard Edwards, CEO of UK-based Anpario, describes the firm as “a unified culture blended from independent companies that were specialists in several technology areas”. Consequently, 80% of its sales are across three product groups (phytogenics, acid-based eubiotics and mycotoxin binders) and the company has incorporated its best-selling products in its current product range with different acquisitions.
Explaining that he was tasked by the board of directors with raising funds from institutional investors with the ‘buy and build’ strategy, once they decided to acquire an additive company with a global distribution network as part of its strategy to expand the company, Edwards states that they have made many acquisitions since then. Mr. Edwards expresses the current situation of the Anpario team with a highly interesting metaphor: “Your readers should think of Anpario as a team of experts, so metaphorically speaking, heart surgeons, neurosurgeons, oncologists, etc. rather than a general practitioner.” The experienced manager points out to the significance of standardization as one of the most prominent features of the company. Noting that they produce their products in their own centralised UK manufacturing plant, giving importance to the consistency of product quality, Richard Edwards states that this principle is the very reason why many customers tell them their animals not only perform better but also more consistently.
We also talked to Richard Edwards about the way greenhouse gas emissions are covered in the media, the importance they attach to packaging as a company, the Brexit, the indirect effects of the Russia-Ukraine war on the feed additives industry and more. Below are the answers Mr. Edwards gave to our questions:
First of all, can we get to know you briefly?
I qualified as a Chartered Civil Engineer having worked on major tunnelling projects around the world including the Channel Tunnel in 1987. I later studied for an MBA before joining a UK quoted building materials distribution company in their mergers and acquisitions (M&A) team undertaking several transactions including managing post-deal integrations.
I joined Anpario plc in 2006, which is quoted on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market, when it was simply an R&D company developing a novel feeding stimulant product for aquaculture. The Board of Anpario decided the best way to develop the business would be to acquire a cash generative animal feed additive business with a global distribution footprint. So, I was appointed Chief Executive and tasked with raising funds from institutional investors pitching our ‘buy and build’ strategy for this sector. Since then, we have completed several acquisitions, integrated them successfully and combined this activity with an organic growth plan.
How would you introduce Anpario to our readers?
Anpario is a unified culture blended from independent companies that were specialists in several technology areas. For example, our market leading phytogenic product, Orego-Stim®, came from our 2012 acquisition of Meriden, and our leading anti-viral, triple action feed mitigant, pHorce®, was developed by the technical team with Agil, whose understanding of controlling microbial contamination and fermentation was formed in the development and application of silage additives back in the 1980’s. Our expertise in omega-3 supplements came from Optivite, acquired in 2012, who were the first to develop supplements for egg enrichment with omega-3.
Your readers should think of Anpario as a team of experts, so metaphorically speaking, heart surgeons, neurosurgeons, oncologists, etc. rather than a general practitioner. Our sales and technical teams want to understand the customers’ issues, and aspirations first before offering an appropriate solution. It’s why we focus on specialty feed additives, because we’re very good at it, providing local experts on the ground to support and service the customer in each regional market globally.
Another element of our customer value proposition is our production facility in the UK. Regardless of where our products are sold around the word, our leading feed additives are manufactured at our state of the art facility. This centralisation ensures the highest integrity supply chain, consistent product quality and optimum performance, using only approved processes and raw material sources at our FEMAS and UFAS accredited facility.
Can you inform us about your product range?
80% of our sales are across three product groups: phytogenics, acid-based eubiotics and mycotoxin binders. In addition, our Mastercube range is performing well, these binders release nutritional space, provide energy saving benefits and offering a natural alternative to binders produced from synthetic gums. Our comprehensive range of products gives us a uniqueness because we can offer customers solutions to a broad range of challenges.
Our best-selling product, Orego-Stim®, is the market leading phytogenic product for monogastric species, however following recent product development within the aquaculture and ruminant sectors, sales look set to expand here, too.
The uniqueness of Orego-Stim® comes from the fact it is produced from 100% natural oregano essential oil that contains over 100 active compounds. Grown according to organic principles, the unique oregano plant is steam distilled to provide superior quality and the unique fingerprint of Orego-Stim. The product has many different applications and offers proven benefits in all livestock species, with specific formulations having been developed for launch in aquaculture species.
pHorce®, an acid based eubiotic, is also gaining momentum. In work carried out by Pipestone Applied Research in the United States in 2019, pHorce® outranked many competitor products in an evaluation of feed additives for mitigating the risk of virus contaminated feed. One of the viruses evaluated was porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv), a new variant of which is currently prevalent in the US. Feedback from field evaluation by customers has been superb, with no outbreaks of the virus occurring where pHorce® has been used. In addition, farmers have benefited from improved performance, and it is also being used as an effective replacement for therapeutic zinc oxide use in piglet diets. Our unique combination of acids, and the unique carrier system, is what differentiates this product and makes it so effective.
You are exporting your products to over 80 countries. In which regions do you focus? What are your future plans re this extensive export market?
All regions and territories are important to us because it gives the company an element of resilience through geographic diversity. Investors don’t like volatility; they want long-term, sustainable profit growth, so we have built a business with a strong geographic spread. However, we are placing a little more emphasis in the Americas and Asia Pacific as one territory has the raw materials to feed animals whilst the other has the highest concentration of consumers whose spending power will increase. We will continue to establish wholly owned subsidiaries in key territories to support our customers and partner distributors.
OUR PACKAGING IS EFFECTIVE UNTIL LAST DAY OF SHELF LIFE
How does Anpario differentiate itself from its competitors in terms of price and quality? Why should feed producers around the world choose your products?
We very much focus on consistency of product quality by using the highest specification of raw materials and manufacturing the product in the same way for every order in our own centralised UK manufacturing plant. When we present trial data to customers, they can be assured that the product will have been manufactured in our facility to the same exacting standards as the product used in our trials. It’s why pHorce® works just as well in the field as it did in the Pipestone research program and why many customers using Orego-Stim® tell us their animals not only perform better but also more consistently. We are able to provide additional value to our customers, with proven profitable returns on investment visible in trial work and commercial studies. Being an independent manufacturer also means we are able to provide a tailored solution for our customers.
Our packaging is also important in guaranteeing that the integrity of the product is maintained for at least its shelf-life, and often beyond. We have specially designed bags which prevent losses of active compounds, ensuring that the product will be as good at the end of its shelf-life as the day it was made.
It is these benefits which bring a return to the producer when using Anpario products. We price on what value we bring to our customers whether it be clean feed, improved animal performance such as better feed efficiency or the requirement for a natural product to enable the customer to export to countries where substances such as formaldehyde and zinc oxide have been banned.
Feed producers around the world should buy our products so they can sleep at night knowing our product is either protecting their feed in an environmentally safe way or helping them to differentiate their feed product whilst supporting profitability.
“Global Leaders. Local Experts.” I saw this phrase on your website. What would you say about it? What does it mean? How is this approach implemented?
We have global leading products such as Orego-Stim®, pHorce®, and Anpro®, our new range of mycotoxin binders. These products have been developed by learning from our global experience of what works best and what are the key priorities for feed and livestock producers. Anpario’s global connections and experience over forty years means we can bring ‘best global practice’ to customers. Our links with key universities and renowned research institutes across the globe provide a platform for our pioneering and innovative research, enabling us to lead the way in global feed additive developments. Our recently granted patent for the composition of Orego-Stim being effective in the control of antimicrobial resistant bacteria is one such example of this.
The ‘local experts’ part is a recognition that a global solution may not be relevant in all territories or may need some local adaptation. We implement it by using the knowledge and experience of our local technical salespeople who we encourage to build a deep understanding of the customer. We employ local teams of experts, including nutritionists, vets, experienced agricultural technicians and managers globally, all of whom are able to understand local issues and support producers to overcome local challenges. This approach means that our sales team have experience of what it’s like to run a pig or poultry production unit or an integrated system where they were responsible for providing support and advice.
How has the Brexit affected your business? What steps are needed for the transition process?
Brexit hasn’t materially affected our business. We did however set up a European stockholding hub in Barneveld to smooth the administration process but, in truth, we should have done this years ago as delivery efficiency to European customers has really benefitted. We have also set up legal entities in Germany and Ireland to ensure future business continuity.
CATTLE CAN ACT AS A CARBON SINK
What do you think about the concept of cows damaging the atmosphere and environment? What can Anpario offer re this topic?
There is a lot of negative press emanating from those with a vested interest in curtailing the production of animal protein. The agricultural industry is working towards reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and it recognises that this will take a combination of solutions to address the situation.
It is worth pointing out there is new evidence that pasture-fed cattle can act as a carbon sink over time i.e., carbon negative. However, not all cattle can be reared on pasture, so we believe there are innovative methods to help reduce carbon or methane emissions from livestock by improving the efficiency of the rumen. In fact, there are already products on the market including Anpario’s Orego-Stim® and our Optomega™ range of omega-3 supplement, with Optomega Plus having already been shown to reduce methane output by 10.8%.
Anpario has also been working to determine the effect of Orego-Stim® on nutrient absorption in poultry and the impact this can have on protein levels in the diet. Feedback from the customer based in the US is positive, indicating protein reductions in formulations may be possible with no negative impact on animal performance. Reducing protein not only reduces emissions but also has the added benefit of a reduction in raw material use and with raw material prices continuing to increase, improved feed efficiency is more important than ever before. Small percentage improvements can make a significant beneficial impact given the huge volumes required to feed a growing world population.
AS COSTS INCREASE, NEED FOR FEED ADDITIVES INCREASES, TOO
The grain and feed industries are directly affected by the Russia-Ukraine war. What are the indirect effects on the feed additives sector? How are you coping with the challenges?
The feed additive sector is indirectly affected by the pressure put on our customers from increasing raw material and animal feed costs, which have squeezed their profitability and in some cases their viability. Although we do believe these cost pressures will eventually be passed on to consumers, there can be a short-term impact in the use of some feed additives if there are less animals to feed or producers look to reduce hard costs. However, speciality feed additives improve feed efficiency so it would be a false economy to reduce their use just at the time when the cost of feed is increasing, because the savings will be more. Supplementing diets with feed additives such as Orego-Stim has been shown to provide a profitable return on investment, helping producers get more, for less.
Anpario has a strong balance sheet and so we have been able to ensure we have both high raw material and finished goods inventory across our storage locations around the world. It has meant our working capital requirements have increased but ensures we can maintain timely supply to our customers.
What other points would you like to make / put across?
I think I’ve said enough in my answers above. I wouldn’t want to send your readers to sleep, assuming they’re still awake!