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INTERVIEW: Biochem Responding to Increased Demand for Liquid Feed Additives via Recent Expansion

Source: Feedindo Logo Final

22 September 2022 - In July this year, German company Biochem Zusatzstoffe Handels- und Produktionsges. mbH (Biochem) completed expansion works of its 4,500m2 feed additive production and logistics facility in Lohne, Germany.

Founded in 1986, Biochem was originally a trader of raw materials. Now, with more than 340 employees in more than 70 countries around the world, the company focuses on developing, producing, and selling a wide range of feed additives for animal health.

To find out more about the strategic rationale behind the expansion and future plans of the company, Feedinfo invited Dr. Alexander Grafe, CEO of Biochem, to share his insight.

According to Dr. Grafe, the expansion will help bolster the Lohne facility’s production of powder, paste, gel, and liquid feed additives, as well as dietary supplements.

“Our full range of feed additives supports the health and performance of every animal, age, and requirement — including gut health, feed efficiency, immune stimulation, young animal nutrition, and toxin management,” Dr. Grafe commented.

Asked if Biochem has added any new capabilities with the expansion, or if the expansion was mainly about boosting capacity in its existing product lines, Dr. Grafe answered “it was a bit of both, actually.”

He explained: “Moving liquid production away from its former area, where it had been co-located with paste and gel production, has not only increased our production capability but given us much more flexibility in our liquid filling lines.”

“We are now able to fill our liquid products into containers ranging from 500 millilitres to 25,000 litres. Furthermore, this relocation frees up the old 1,000-litre liquid production mixer to be used as a liquid pilot production line. This allows us the freedom to innovate as well as test for scale-up issues,” the CEO added.

By moving liquid production to this latest expansion and thanks to the improved filling capability, the facility now has the capacity to manufacture up to 7 tonnes/hour of liquid product, according to Dr. Grafe.

“Our new filling line is fed by three-12m3 storage tanks and eliminates the bottleneck we had in the old production and filling area,” he said.

“The decision to enlarge the facilities to house an expanded liquid production also addresses several other issues. The new facility adds additional raw material and finished product storage space as well as new office space to house our increasing staff,” the CEO added. “It makes sense that we would invest to meet the growing demands of the market,” he concluded.

Dr. Grafe said the company believes that liquid feed additives and dietary supplements are a worthwhile investment.

Dr. Alexander Grafe

“Our grounding has been in powders,” Dr. Grafe pointed out. “[And] this extensive knowledge of powdered feed additives has supported the continued development and expansion of our liquid portfolio and gives us considerable experience in the liquid feed additive sector as well.”

Additionally, as the sector of liquid feed additives and dietary supplements has been growing fast, Dr. Grafe said Biochem sees no reason for this to change in the coming years.

Asked what makes people choose increasingly liquid feed additives instead of other forms of additives, the CEO of Biochem shared his views: “On the production side, liquids have several advantages. Liquid production allows for a higher automatisation, ease of transfer, and better plant economics. On the consumer side, liquid feed additives and dietary supplements offer numerous advantages over other forms, especially in-feed solutions.”

“Firstly, in-feed solutions are long-term over specific growth phases, which make it difficult to respond quickly to an animal’s individual needs. Liquid feed additives and dietary supplements are designed to be deployed in an animal’s water supply and can be applied quickly. As such, a producer can rapidly respond to a problem with the simple addition of a solution in the drinking water. And this can be done with precision. A producer can treat an entire herd or just individual pens. Furthermore, with pastes and emulsions, an individual animal can be treated if needed. This saves costs and conserves resources,” he elaborated.

Dr. Grafe added: “Rising feed prices are adding pressure for producers to optimise feed efficiency and keep feed expenses minimal. Liquid feed supplements are an excellent option to minimise feed costs by improving digestion and feed conversion ratio. Worldwide, countries have made food safety a top priority. As such, there is a push for decreased antibiotic use as a performance enhancer to prevent antibiotic resistance while conserving the mechanisms of action. Liquid feed additives and dietary supplements are one of the ways to fill the gap left by these substances. Additionally, the pressures of a rapidly changing environment are driving growth in this sector. Increases in extreme temperature — especially hot temperatures — causes stress to animals in production that, in turn, decreases in animal productivity. Liquid products — such as those to aid in heat stress — can be easily added to the drinking water, which allow farms to time the treatment to meet the demand.”

Speaking of rising raw materials prices, Biochem aims to weather the impact to some extent via this new expansion. Dr Grafe said: “One thing we built into our new expansion is increased storage — both for finished goods and raw materials. Additionally, our facilities are climate controlled, which helps keep the integrity of both raw materials and finished products. All told, this allows us to buy in larger amounts, lock in prices, and ‘weather the storm’, so to speak. With our new expansion, we are able to keep prices level and products ready to ship to our customers.”

“As we believe liquid feed additives and dietary supplements will be a strong sector going forward, we will be looking strongly at this area for future innovation,” the CEO of Biochem stated.

He highlighted that the company will also focus on developing its business footprint in the Latin American, Asia-Pacific, and African regions. “We will be looking for strategic partners in these regions to help us achieve this goal,” he said.