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Eastman’s Animal Nutrition Division Creates Value from Connecting Chemistry with Biochemistry—INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE

Source: Eastman via Feedinfo

22 September 2021 - In the animal nutrition world, the name Eastman likely evokes solid, trusted tools for gut health and feed hygiene, such as the company’s well-established organic acids portfolio.

Less visible but potentially more exciting is the deep well of R&D assets that the company can draw on to help address the many challenges facing the animal production industry. Over the last several years, as Eastman has added to its feed additives portfolio and industry expertise through both organic growth and acquisitions, it has also come to recognize the unique capabilities it can offer.  

Today, Sandeep Bangaru, general manager for animal nutrition at Eastman, gives insight into how the company is positioning its animal nutrition business. As he states, the company’s strength comes not only from its determination to meet the customer where they are with solutions that work for their unique needs but also from its ability to apply interdisciplinary insight—connecting chemistry with biochemistry—to arrive at innovative solutions.

[Feedinfo] How would you define Eastman's ambition in animal nutrition?

[Sandeep Bangaru] Over the past 100 years, Eastman has developed a track record of adding value to multiple end markets by deploying a very intentional development model. That includes investing in application platforms for a given market, combining that application understanding with relevant technology streams, then investing in a market engagement team across sales, technical service, and marketing.

The animal production industry is going through significant changes, such as the move away from prophylactic use of antibiotics, ZnO, and other materials of concern like formaldehyde or ethoxyquin. There is also growing uncertainty in international trade and supply chains, increasing pressures in biosecurity and hygiene control, as well as a large drive to make step-change improvements in the environmental footprint of production operations. Any one of these would be a challenge on its own, so you can empathize with the task at hand for protein producers. There is a very strong need to make livestock farming more animal-friendly and more sustainable.

Eastman Sandeep Bangaru

Sandeep Bangaru
General manager, Animal nutrition

[Feedinfo] What are the pillars of Eastman’s animal nutrition portfolio today? Where do you see the greatest growth opportunities?

[Sandeep Bangaru] Eastman has one of the broadest portfolios of organic acids and is one of the largest suppliers globally. Our organic acids and derivatives are used in various applications – from preservation and hygiene of raw materials and feeds (including silage) to acidification for intestinal balance and improved animal health. We also have a large pillar of essential nutrients with our choline chloride stream. But we recognize the macro trends are amplifying certain unmet needs and creating new ones for animal producers. So we really see an opportunity and need to connect chemistry with biochemistry and accelerate innovation through new products.

We’re making investments to help customers understand how our feed additives are working, why they're working in the animal, how they help combat large issues across poultry and swine, and how they need to be formulated in the diet. Ultimately, it will be very important to develop new products and technologies that will help customers optimize their operations by preventing and solving specific animal challenges.

[Feedinfo] What will Eastman’s investments in animal nutrition focus on in the coming years?

 [Sandeep Bangaru] One of the things we've seen in this industry, like many industries facing disruptive change, is a proliferation of new technologies. With the regulated and/or consumer-driven move away from prophylactic use of antibiotics in many regions, the industry has seen a broad proliferation of additive categories. In our discussions with customers, we’re hearing that they would really appreciate a better understanding of how all these additives work, why they are working, and how they're working together or not working together. Therefore, we see investments in mode-of-action platforms that create transparency for our customers as a major focus.

It’s also an industry where each farm, each producer, has different environmental factors, different input factors, different configurations, and this means that customers have unique needs when deploying diets and new ingredients in their farm management systems. It's a very complex industry. That complexity means you must have a customer-centric approach. Investing in flexible manufacturing and customer-focused, customized solutions at the customer level is also an important focus.

In new materials or technologies, Eastman can connect application knowledge with chemistry expertise and use our technology streams to develop new derivatives. That’s where we can really add a lot of value to the industry. We see Eastman developing into a partner for customers on their innovation journey.

[Feedinfo] Earlier this year, Eastman acquired 3F Feed & Food. Can you give more details on what this acquisition brought the company?

 [Sandeep Bangaru] 3F Feed & Food is a great company with a lot of success over the past two decades in the nutrition space. Their portfolio spans acidifiers, gut health additives in the form of various esterified acids, and drinking-water additive programs. They also have a state-of-the-art production facility that's very agile. That allows 3F to deploy a customer-centric model where they can design and develop programs in conjunction with customers and manufacture and deploy them very rapidly. The 3F team has brought a lot of great capabilities under the Eastman umbrella. That along with Eastman's investments in application platforms and technology integration will be a powerful combination for customers globally.

 [Feedinfo] This isn’t Eastman’s first big bet on animal nutrition. Give us an overview of how the company has grown its presence in this space.

[Sandeep Bangaru] Eastman has a long history with our oxo and acetyl streams. We’ve always had a long foundation in several organic acids that come off those streams. In 2014, with Eastman's acquisition of Taminco, an additional portfolio based on amines and organic acids was added. 

Last year, we entered a commercial relationship with Sanluc, which expanded our portfolio further into gut health additives by adding fat-coated, butyrate-based products. Earlier in 2021, you saw the acquisition of 3F, which brought great capabilities across portfolio, product, and manufacturing.

And over the past twelve months, Eastman animal nutrition has organically added 15 new professionals to our global team; they’ve brought more than 150 years of industry experience to our organization. As we've added these capabilities, we've increased our regional presence. While a lot of our historic footprint through acquisitions or partnerships has been very concentrated in Europe, we have started building critical mass in North America and Asia Pacific, two regions in which the broader Eastman company has extensive organizations and lab capabilities.

[Feedinfo] Most companies in animal nutrition pride themselves on their innovation. What makes Eastman’s innovation activities stand out?

[Sandeep Bangaru] There is a lot of good work going on across the industry. Again, it's mostly based on an existing set of tools. When we see the amount of need that still exists and the emerging needs, we believe some step-change increases in the pace of innovation and new tools are needed. Ultimately, connecting chemistry with biochemistry and nutritional understanding is a fairly unique combination Eastman can bring with the right investments.

In the future, no one molecule will address all gut health and digestive disorder needs. The answers will come through a combination of several effective molecules. To bring these future solutions to the market, you must have an open mind and work with key customers to develop solutions that are tested in real production conditions and at a large scale to get the right information about their efficacy. You also need the right manufacturing capabilities and flexibility to formulate successful solutions in terms of performance, stability, and speed.  

When you're developing new tools, having real value chain collaboration collaborating with customers, and even collaborating with their customers, is going to be important in making this successful. Developing tools in isolation and then “pushing” those tools out to customers won’t be effective in this industry, given how different geographies and applications have their own particular needs. That’s why Eastman is taking a very collaborative and open approach to innovation, and it's an approach we've deployed in many different end markets. We're eager to collaborate with customers and have already started this type of joint development and collaboration and hope to continue to do so in all regions.

The combination of these focus areas should lead to more value creation for customers.


Published in association with Eastman

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