For French-based business Valorex, there is a fundamental belief that feeding livestock with a specialist source of energy and omega 3 has numerous benefits for animals and humans, as well as the environment.
In today's Industry Perspectives, we talk to Mathieu Tournat, Head of International Business at Valorex, about the business, its core product, Tradilin, and its aim to expand its global impact beyond the 35 countries it is currently working with.
The business is driven by R&D, holding 14 patents and having worked collaboratively with others to publish more than 420 scientific papers. This depth and breadth of work has allowed it to recognise and exploit the specific benefits that its Tradilin product offers to dairy and swine producers, including better animal health and performance and reduced environmental impact, it says.
[Feedinfo] Valorex is well known in Europe, with more than 4,000 farmers using your Tradilin product, and you trade in more than 35 countries, but for readers who are less familiar with you, could you start by telling us more about your company and what you do?
[Mathieu Tournat] Thank you for asking! Valorex is a French company founded in 1992 by Pierre Weill. We are located in Brittany, an area with a high density of dairy units in the North-West of France. The company is still owned by the founder’s family, the management team and external shareholders. We are a very unique company because we are small (110 people) but at the same time very heavily R&D-driven. We have 14 patents and 420 publications achieved with a large network of R&D partners: collaboration is our DNA.
Our core know-how is the combination of high performance and health in animal nutrition, keeping in mind the benefits of omega 3 in human nutrition. From the factory staff to the sales teams, each employee is proud to deliver products that make a difference regarding the environment, nutritional features, and ROI for farmers.
Valorex is very well known in France, selling directly to dairy farmers or via feedmills. We are also active in 35 countries via exclusive distributors and have long-term partnerships with Agrosom in Germany and Scandinavia, Noack in Central Europe, Trinova in Switzerland and ForFarmers in Great Britain.
[Feedinfo] One of your products which is having an impact on-farm is Tradilin. Can you talk through what it is, how it is produced and what it offers? What does it replace in diets?
[Mathieu Tournat] Tradilin is indeed our main offer for the international market. It is a unique high-quality energy source from selected and pressure-cooked linseed. Everything begins with linseeds. We process 70,000 tonnes of linseed per year, which is carefully selected and analysed. Linseed can be very rich in omega 3 - or not - depending on the variety. In nature, linseed omega 3 content can go from 10% to more than 70%, so selection is critical, and we have developed proprietary analytical know-how in order to analyse every raw material batch to ensure it meets a precise fat and omega 3 control level.
Second comes our patented technology which uses precise pressured temperature parameters to destroy anti-nutritional factors and make nutrients highly available and digestible. Our process allows the product to reach the highest digestibility for the highest efficiency. This leads to a progressive release of omega 3 in the rumen of dairy cows, mimicking the behaviour of fresh grass. Tradilin is an energy source, so its inclusion means it can replace other energy sources such as palm oil, but in addition, it provides health and reproduction benefits for the animals.
Tradilin is manufactured in France, but also in Germany (under the trademark Easylin), Switzerland and Austria with our local partners. It is our strategy to produce it as close as possible to customers worldwide.
[Feedinfo] You are clear that it has a lot to offer in ruminant nutrition. How it is being used, and what are the benefits that, say, dairy farmers are seeing with its use? How easy is it to introduce into rations, how palatable is it, and does it have an obvious financial benefit?
[Mathieu Tournat] Tradilin, as a pressure-cooked product, is very palatable and easy to introduce in rations. As a source of smart and healthy energy, we can safely increase ration energy levels to increase milk yield with no acidosis and no ketosis. Changing rumen interactions means milk yield will improve within a few days. This effect is partly due to methane production reduction, coming from rumen fermentations switching to increased propionic production, and partly due to the reduction of metabolic disorders in early lactation.
In the following weeks, the omega 3 in Tradilin will improve many functions: reproduction, control of inflammation, leading to milk yield increase and reduced health problems such as metritis, mastitis and so on.
The return on investment for farmers can be measured after just a few weeks: it is a 2:1 ROI from zootechnical benefits, and farmers will also have an easy-to-manage herd with fewer challenges and health disorders.
Linseed products are often considered to have a negative effect on milk fat. But when Tradilin is used with the precise feeding guidelines we provide, milk fat is fully controlled.
We have also developed advisory tools: Visiolac, or Milchblick in German. They support farmers in their feed efficiency management, by using the milk fatty acids profile to improve farm rationing efficiency.
We see a very similar effect when using Tradilin in sows. Feeding it to gestating and lactating sows leads to a higher number of born alive piglets and higher litter weight at birth, plus a higher number of weaned piglets and litter weaning weight. This is linked to the benefits of the omega 3, lignans and mucilage of Tradilin, which lead to improved fertility, quicker farrowing and improved quality of colostrum and milk production.
[Feedinfo] In terms of the environment, ruminants in particular are coming under increasing scrutiny. Can you talk through the research you have done on the environmental impact of including Tradilin in ruminant diets?
[Mathieu Tournat] For one litre of milk, more than 70% of the environmental footprint is related to the farm greenhouse gas emissions. And half of these are related to enteric methane emissions. This is a huge challenge for the dairy industry.
We have been working on this topic since 2005, at a time where very few private companies were considering this challenge. We knew Tradilin should have an impact on methane emissions due to its very specific mode of action. So we began peer-reviewed science on methane in 2008 and we now have eight peer-reviewed articles focused on its methane mitigation effects.
This work has been performed with INRAE, Wageningen University, University of Reading, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology and Agroscope, in Greenfeed or calorimetric chambers, with corn silage, grass silage or pasture. On average, feeding Tradilin reduces methane by 9.5%; two-thirds of this is due to a rumen effect, and one-third to a yield effect due to increased milk production. This effect is recognised within carbon footprint tools such as Cap2ER in France or e-CO2 in the UK. We are working on gaining recognition in other carbon footprint tools as there are a large number of them worldwide.
Valorex has also developed a patented approach to predicting methane emissions via milk fatty acids analyses. This know-how is now used by the Eco-Sens company, which works with dairy processors specifically on their methane footprint. Understanding current methane emissions is where Eco-Sens can bring decisive support.
In addition to this methane effect, Tradilin reduces the CO2 footprint of the diet, especially when it replaces palm oil or soybean meal.
[Feedinfo] One of the unique points about linseed products is that they have a good omega 3 profile which balances the more inflammatory omega 6 which is found in other ration ingredients such as soya and maize. What impact does this ultimately have on human health?
[Mathieu Tournat] Since the creation of Valorex, we have been working on these nutritional features. Indeed, humans need a better omega 6/omega 3 balance in their diets. Eating fish is a nice way to achieve this, but at the world scale, there will never be enough fish, and overfishing is a huge environmental issue. This is why we have always encouraged the improvement of the nutritional features of land animals: eggs, meat and milk will have a better nutritional profile and in particular a better omega 6/omega 3 balance if animals are better fed.
This approach led us to the creation of the Bleu Blanc Coeur association in France in 2000. It is an independent association which promotes healthy food, with a specific labelling on food products and nutritional specifications for the animals’ diets. Valorex is proud to be the R&D partner of Bleu Blanc Coeur, which now represents more than 5% of all farm animals in France.
Tradilin is also used in other countries where omega 3 enriched food (eggs in particular) are marketed. These foods often have, on top of their enhanced nutritional quality, other benefits especially on meat quality, such as greater tenderness, lower drip loss at cooking and a better taste.
[Feedinfo] What are your plans for the future?
[Mathieu Tournat] The future will include lots of innovation and R&D. We are currently exploring equine and petfood applications, and although Tradilin is already used in these markets, we want to increase know-how and create dedicated products.
Environment will of course remain a very strong focus for us, and we will also be seeking to expand our geographical footprint in North America, Israel and in the Middle East in particular. We also want to create a logistics platform for South-East Asia with our Malaysian partner, for enhanced responsiveness for local customers.
Published in association with Valorex