Eastman has grown in the animal nutrition market over the years, mainly thanks to its wide range of organic acid products. The company's focus on animal nutrition has been further enhanced by the 3F Feed & Food acquisition in Spain in 2021.
In this interview, Mario García Jiménez, Operations Manager Animal Nutrition, and Irene Quintana, Transformation Projects Director, explain how 3F has enabled their business to reassess its collaborative model to be more in line with customer requirements and develop more customisable and synergistic solutions around gut health.
[Feedinfo] Eastman acquired 3F Feed & Food in Spain in 2021. Previously, we discussed the rationale behind this acquisition. What else can you tell us about the integration of 3F in the past two years?
[Irene Quintana] The acquisition by Eastman of 3F has strongly influenced the Eastman Animal Nutrition business model. It has enabled us to adapt more effectively to animal nutrition market requirements in terms of flexibility and agility. The 3F team and their facilities have been critical to understand what these requirements are. We have been using this knowhow to scale up the 3F model, adapting it to other countries and regions. Eastman’s deep chemical knowhow, expertise in animal nutrition, and back integration in organic acids; combined with 3F’s agility, and their market, application, and customer requirements understanding, have proven to be a highly complementary mix that supports our growth.
[Mario García Jiménez] Since the acquisition in 2021, Eastman has made significant strides towards accelerating growth in key markets and with customers. Eastman's commitment to growth extends beyond internal efforts. We have forged strong collaborations with our customers. These partnerships have proven to be highly beneficial, fostering innovation and facilitating access to cutting-edge technologies and markets.
[Feedinfo] Can you talk more specifically about the model and your capacity to cater to customers?
[Mario García Jiménez] In essence, our model is a comprehensive solution that combines flexibility, agility, customisation, and access to expertise. These capabilities empower our customers to create tailored formulations efficiently, meet market demands promptly, and achieve their business objectives effectively.
Breaking this down further, our model offers a high degree of flexibility, allowing the creation of formulations for both dry and liquid products, suitable for both feed and water applications. This versatility ensures that our customers can adapt to different requirements and preferences, providing solutions that meet various needs. We also understand the importance of speed and agility in today's fast-paced business environment. This agility allows our customers to respond rapidly to changing market demands and stay ahead of the competition.
Tailoring products to meet specific customer requirements is at the heart of what we offer. Our model enables deep customisation, facilitating the fine-tuning of formulations to match customers’ precise needs. This level of customisation extends beyond basic parameters, providing a comprehensive approach to product development that aligns with each customer's unique goals.
We recognise the value of both chemical and nutritional expertise in our customers' industries. That's why we offer not just a tool but also access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Our team of experts collaborates closely with customers to provide guidance, insights, and support throughout the formulation process.
[Irene Quintana] I’d like to add that our business model is not based on the standard way of developing a product, testing it, and offering it “off the shelf” to any customer. It is based on a consultative process. We invest time in establishing relationships with our customers to understand their needs and situations. We then implement our ability to customise solutions to address their challenges. This means that we will combine different building blocks we have in our toolbox to solve a variety of unmet needs related to animal health, and specifically to situations affecting gut health like antibiotic reduction or regulatory restrictions. When it comes to additives, combinations can be very useful to address the different root causes, often showing synergetic effects. We are constantly looking to extend our toolbox, finding building block ingredients that are complementary to our existing portfolio, to build new programmes.
Our programmes are founded on a deep understanding of the mode of action of these building blocks which are combined to cover our four selected pillars which are: acidification & preservation, gut integrity, microbiota management and reduction of oxidation & inflammation. Our organic acids and derivatives – which are monoglyceride blends of short and medium chain fatty acids – are a critical part of our concepts and play a role in the four pillars of focus.
We know that adding other combinations of new and existing ingredients can have a boosting effect and solve several key challenges in a better way. For example, we are already working with some plant bioactives, and continue to screen new ones together with other molecules that can be produced with existing Eastman technologies. At the same time, we are looking at ways to deliver the actives to the animal more effectively. We are excited about the possibilities that this approach can bring and look forward to continued expansion both geographically and in terms of the solutions we can offer.
[Feedinfo] What challenges have you been confronted with when scaling up the business?
[Mario García Jiménez] Expanding the business has indeed presented different types of challenges.
Mario García Jiménez
One challenge has been the construction and establishment of the brands of Eastman Animal Nutrition in new markets. Building brand recognition and trust takes time and resources. It is an ongoing process that requires dedication and a deep understanding of your market and customers.
Expanding into new regions often necessitates additional trialling and materials. Acquiring the right materials and resources for these trials, as well as adapting formulations to local conditions, can be a logistical challenge. Different regions have distinct regulations when it comes to approved ingredients. Obtaining the necessary approvals and ensuring compliance with local standards is a time demanding task. Addressing these challenges effectively is essential for a successful expansion strategy.
[Feedinfo] Are you running sustainability/safety initiatives?
[Mario García Jiménez] One of our notable sustainability initiatives is the installation of solar panels. We have invested in solar plant installations at our Avila plant, to harness clean energy from the sun. This not only reduces our environmental footprint by decreasing our reliance on non-renewable energy sources but also contributes to cost savings in the long run. We believe that sustainable energy solutions like solar panels are essential in mitigating climate change and promoting a greener future.
We regularly conduct safety audits to assess and improve our safety protocols and procedures. These audits are a proactive measure to identify and address potential hazards, ensuring the well-being of our employees and the communities where we operate. Continuous improvement is a core principle of our safety initiatives, and we are committed to maintaining the highest safety standards, prioritising the safety and well-being of our employees and stakeholders.
[Feedinfo] You talk about the 3F success story in the Iberia market. Can you explain why? And what feedback have you picked up from customers?
[Mario García Jiménez] 3F's success story in Iberia can be attributed to several key factors, demonstrating the value we bring to our customers. One of the cornerstones of our success in Iberia has been the establishment of long-term and trusting relationships with our customers. Over the years, we've built trust by consistently delivering quality products and building true partnerships with customers while being reactive to their needs and demands. This trust has only deepened since the Eastman acquisition, as customers recognise our commitment to their success.
Our facilities in Iberia are designed to be flexible and adaptive. This means that we can quickly respond to changing customer demands and market dynamics. Whether it's adjusting production volumes, altering formulations, or accommodating special requests, our facilities are equipped to meet these needs efficiently. Our continued success is also driven by the excellence of our products and services. We provide a wide range of high-quality products that cater to the specific requirements of our customers. Additionally, our services extend beyond product delivery. We offer technical support and expertise to help our customers optimise their operations and achieve their goals We have also developed a set of services that include the supply and installation of dosing equipment for our products, and consultancy services to help customers manage their quality requirements. Integration of 3F into the broader Eastman framework has enhanced the security of supply for our customers. Being integrated into Eastman's acids supply chain ensures a reliable and consistent source of raw materials. This stability in supply chain management has been well received by our customers, as it minimises disruptions and allows for smoother operations.
In terms of feedback from customers after the Eastman acquisition, we have received positive responses. Customers appreciate the continued commitment to quality, and recognise the value of our long-term relationships, our adaptability, and the security of supply that comes with our integration into the Eastman structure. The positive feedback from customers reaffirms our commitment to delivering value and excellence in all aspects of our business.
Published in association with Eastman Chemical Company