Since 1999, Spanish firm Bioiberica has been supporting immunity and gut health in some of the most sensitive animal nutrition applications – animals in the earliest stages of their lives, or those facing rapid growth or burdensome disease pressures.
Its functional ingredients portfolio is built around two pillars: hydrolysed proteins (easily digestible sources of amino acids and bioactive peptides) and freely available nucleotides (which, as the basic building blocks of DNA and RNA, are essential in cell replication).
Today, the company’s Animal Nutrition Business Unit Director Victor Beneito describes how the understanding of these two technologies has grown over the nearly 25 years it has been active in the feed industry, and provides a glimpse at what the market can expect from Bioiberica going forward.
[Feedinfo] Bioiberica is approaching a quarter of a century in the animal nutrition business. What have been some of the most important developments for your company over that time?
[Victor Beneito] Bioiberica is a life science company specialized in products of natural origin for human, animal and plant health, with quality, traceability and safety standards reflecting our prominent focus on the pharmaceutical industry. We started our animal nutrition ingredients business back in 1999 with our hydrolyzed proteins PALBIO, obtained during the process of extracting heparin from porcine intestinal mucosa. It was a difficult start because in the year 2000 all animal derived products were banned due to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in the EU. Then, to keep the young animal nutrition business unit running, we launched our nucleotides product range, NUCLEOFORCE, obtained from yeast to mimic the effects of this ingredient which had been observed in infant formula nutrition.
Since then, we have been building a solid knowledge base about our products with extensive evidence of their value for early stages of animal nutrition. Nowadays our functional ingredients are regularly used in swine, poultry, aquaculture and pet food diets to support animal health and the sustainability of feed & food manufacturers. It’s been a long journey, growing with our customers and providing efficient solutions to support key issues for animal nutrition such as digestibility, palatability, intestinal health and immunity.
[Feedinfo] How has the knowledge of, or market for, products such as hydrolysed proteins and nucleotides evolved during that period? In what ways is it easier or more difficult to stand out in these segments today than it was when you entered?
[Victor Beneito] For our proteins range, we started having empiric evidence that our products improved swine and poultry farm results. Over these years we have discovered that our Palbio is formed by free amino acids and bioactive peptides with specific biological functions. We have proven that our proteins, once absorbed, positively module the gene expression of the intestinal cells to trigger key functions of intestinal metabolism. We have learned that our proteins can help selectively grow intestinal cells compared with other tissues such as lungs, liver, kidneys etc. And lately we have obtained interesting results related to the composition of the microbiome when using Palbio in swine starter diets. Over these years all this evidence has turned Palbio into a powerful tool to support intestinal health at early stages of development.
We brought the use of free nucleotides to animal nutrition to support early development of aquaculture, livestock and pets based on the existing knowledge in infant nutrition. Throughout these years we have gathered solid evidence on how these semi-essential nutrients turn into essential mode under certain conditions. They are excellent functional ingredients to enhance animal immune response during vaccination periods or when facing common challenges in aquaculture and livestock production systems.
Another key finding is that nucleotides’ positive effects can be observed in both the mother and the child even when they are only fed to the parental generation, particularly in swine nutrition. And we have multiple studies related to the effects of free nucleotides in the intestinal cells’ metabolism, with interesting examples of gene modulation of diets containing Nucleoforce and its positive effects on intestinal cells’ integrity.
And last but not least, we have obtained extensive evidence related to the use of our hydrolyzed proteins, free nucleotides and glycosaminoglycans in pet nutrition, and particularly on their impacts on key pet health conditions such as joint health, skin health, gastrointestinal health and immunity.
[Feedinfo] Of course, Bioiberica has not rested on its laurels, but has been proactive on the research and development front. What recent findings or trial results are you most excited about?
[Victor Beneito] Innovation is the core of our business and over the last five years we have published more than 50 projects based on our scientific research related to animal nutrition. Our latest trial with hydrolyzed proteins was carried out in collaboration with Schothorst Feed Research, and is related to early swine nutrition but measured at the end of the production cycle. We have recently published the first set of results of this trial and there are interesting qualitative and quantitative outcomes that validate yet again that Palbio is a very efficient tool for early nutrition.
Our latest research about Nucleoforce has been focused on low fish meal aquaculture diets and how free nucleotides can sustain the productivity of these diets and at the same time support production when faced with common pathogenic diseases. We have done trials in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand with the same objectives but using local set ups, and have received consistent results, proving that Nucleoforce delivers outcomes to farmers in challenging conditions.
[Feedinfo] Over the last three years, the industry has faced difficult market conditions, between the pandemic, the logistics crisis, and sky-high raw materials prices, among other issues. How has Bioiberica reacted to this to better support its farm animal, aqua, and pet food customers?
[Victor Beneito] Our main efforts have been focused on identifying our customers’ most important needs, and doing our utmost to help them perform as well as they did in the pre-crisis periods. We have taken a variety of actions, from promoting new product formats which help dilute logistic costs, to streamlining our production in order to remain competitive and optimise the value for our customers. We have put our focus on the processes under our control to strengthen our relationships with our key stakeholders at all levels of our value chain.
[Feedinfo] What do you see as the major challenges in livestock and aquaculture production in the coming years? How is Bioiberica well positioned to help meet those challenges?
[Victor Beneito] The major challenge is improving the efficacy of production as the population keeps growing and demanding high quality proteins. All companies involved in this value chain should collaborate to improve the sustainability of this process and maintain the cost at a reasonable value. Our commitment to sustainability is deeply rooted in the core of our business, based on a circular economy model. We transform co-products into valuable ingredients for different applications in state-of-the-art facilities with processes designed to minimize the consumption of water, energy, and auxiliary raw materials. The objective is to have products with the lowest possible carbon footprint and to deliver a valuable outcome for our customers in terms of efficacy with functional ingredients to support animal health during early stages of development.
We believe that economic efficiency and environmental responsibility, which form the pillars of sustainability, are the principles that ensure the optimal continuity of livestock and aquaculture production.
[Feedinfo] What’s ahead for Bioiberica in 2024? Where will Bioiberica be focusing its commercial teams, investing in physical expansion, or concentrating other resources?
[Victor Beneito] These days, we are working on two main projects. One is to increase our production capacity for hydrolyzed proteins to meet growing global demand for ingredients that support intestinal health, due to the zinc oxide ban in the EU and local factors in other regions. Our aim is to grow our protein business in the coming years.
Beyond that, we are also investing in our Nucleoforce capabilities to extend its application in different species in additional scenarios. We are currently running trials to confirm this concept and we are looking forward to communicating the results to the market soon.
[Feedinfo] Have you got any final thoughts about the transformations that Bioiberica has experienced in its many years in animal nutrition?
[Victor Beneito] I would like to point out and recognize all the people involved in this journey that I hope will continue for another 25 years. Firstly, our customers and partners with whom we have jointly learned how to optimize the application of our products; we are very grateful for their support and we look forward to maintaining our commitment to them. And of course, the Bioiberica team, past and present, whose collaboration and different perspectives have contributed to ensuring the success of our value proposition to the animal nutrition sector.
Published in association with Bioiberica