We caught up with Leon Marchal, Innovation Director at IFF Health & Bioscience about new trends in the animal health space, the biggest challenges facing the sector and the link between feed additives, animal health and welfare.

Leon Marchal, Innovation Director, IFF Health and Bioscience

As the Innovation Director, tell us about your day-to-day role at IFF Health & Bioscience?
I’m highly involved in all the different elements that are needed to develop, produce, and effectively sell new feed additives. Since customers feed and hold their animals differently across the globe, it is very important to understand these differences. Only then you can develop the right products for the right circumstances and create true customer value.  The team is very active in performing a significant number of animal trials worldwide with different universities, institutes and customers for a variety of reasons. From product development and registration to mode of action and validation trials. Also, a lot of effort is put into building solid matrix values for our customers and how to best apply our product and adjust their feed matrixes.

Tell us about your favourite trends in the animal health space right now?
The higher use of by-products and antibiotic reduction are major factors in improving the sustainability of animal production and they are both connected. By-products were traditionally less used for young animal because of their higher fibre content and lower protein digestibility. But typically, they are available locally, lower priced and come with a lower CO2 footprint per ton of feed. Highly digestible diets with low fibre content creates an environment more preferential for pathogen, hence the potential need of antibiotics. As in humans, animals also benefit from fibre in their diets. With the proper use of enzymes and other additives it is possible to increase the digestibility of by-products in young animal feed. Besides lower feed costs and lower CO2 emissions, this also increases the robustness of the animal by stimulating more fibre fermenting bacteria.

What are the biggest challenges in animal health and nutrition, and how you are working to solve these problems? What is needed from the entire industry to accelerate developments?
Animal production has huge challenges ahead to improve its sustainability and reduce antibiotic use. Besides the market is willing to pay for the increased demands, and it’s a challenge to consistently deliver on the promise of an additive. Due to a variety of reasons the reproducibility of various types of additives are different, from very high to quite low. This is not always visible in published literature and presented material due to a bias of presenting only the positive results. I think most professionals in the field are aware of this but is sometimes also hard to filter through. To accelerate the entire industry, we need to work on increasing the demand site for more sustainable solutions as well as the quality of the products that are on the market.

What is research saying about the link between feed additives, animal health and welfare?
We all know that nutrition and the environment influences health and welfare. However, these are complex correlations with a lot of different elements involved. In general, when the nutrition of an animal is better (and an additive can play a positive role in this), this will lead to better animal health and welfare. But also modulating the immune system or the microbiota composition in the right way will lead to better health and welfare. In the latter, the field is still much more developing to thoroughly understand the interactions under different dietary and environmental conditions.

The EU has lifted the ban on PAPs, what does this mean for you and other businesses in animal nutrition?
If it is done in a safe way, the use of animal protein helps to increase the circularity of animal production. Together with the higher use of other by-products it helps to deliver sustainable animal production.

What connections are important for you to make at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit, and how does connection and partnership benefit your own organisation and the industry at large?
Personal connections are always important. A broad summit like this is ideal to make new and refresh established connections across the whole industry. For example, I find it personally always interesting to look at the pitches and ideas of new start-ups and look for potential new partnerships. But also keeping a pulse on where politics, finance and major food companies are going. Above all it is connecting to people who share the same enthusiasm to improve the sustainability of the animal protein industry from within.

Join Leon at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit on October 20 where he’ll discuss ‘Accelerating Sustainable and Nutritious Novel Feed Solutions’ during the Sustainability Track at 14.50 CEST.

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