Impextraco Talks Renewed, Product-focused Strategy to Support Animal Ag’s Sustainability Efforts – INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

Source: Impextraco via Feedinfo

05 July 2022 – Sustainability is now a very clear objective for many in the livestock industry. But what might not be as clear is which tools – from the vast number now available on the market – to choose from to improve the environmental impact of their operations.

Impextraco is coming to their aid with a new, more focused sustainability strategy that is centred around just six of its feed additives, namely its Zincab® modified zinc oxide source, Elitox® mycotoxin eliminator, N-Force® natural gut health, Butifour® butyrate, Zympex® range of enzymes, and Elife® natural antioxidant blend. The company believes that these essential products from its portfolio can help livestock producers successfully address some of the key sustainability issues that they are facing and set them on right path towards shrinking their carbon footprint.

Feedinfo recently sat down with Impextraco’s Global Managing and Technical Director, Katrien Deschepper and Global Product Managers, Steven Beckers and Arno Duchateau to find out the exact details of this refreshed strategy and the impact the company’s selection of feed additives can have on the sustainability of livestock operations.

[Feedinfo] What are the main sustainability challenges in animal production that Impextraco has identified?

Katrien Deschepper
Global Managing and Technical Director

 [Katrien Deschepper] Starting in the late fifties, food production was about maximising the output per unit of land, and this brought us fertilizers, pesticides, breeding antibiotics and growth promotors.

Today, however, that model is changing drastically. Due to climate change and the increasing pressure a growing global population is putting on food systems, we are now moving towards more responsible animal protein consumption. And this is bringing new opportunities for our entire sector, focussed on sustainability and global health, both on a human and animal level as the two are strongly linked. We will have to rely more and more on data sciences, precision prescriptions, genetics, animal health protection and food as medicine to support more responsible production.

At the same time meat production has to increase by 65% from 337 million MT in 2020 to 557 million MT by 2050 to meet demand which is driven by population growth and urbanisation. Majority of this increased output will come from poultry and aquaculture systems. This means that also the demand for animal feed and additives will continue to increase.

So, on the one hand, we have to produce more animal proteins, on the other hand its production has to be more resilient and sustainable. It is clear that business as usual will not be an option if we want to secure the supply of high-quality animal protein in a sustainable way.

Considering all this, Impextraco has identified the cost-efficient use of scarce resources, reducing environmental impact and the protection of animal and human health as the three major sustainability challenges that the animal production industry is facing.


[Feedinfo] So how has this informed your sustainability strategy?

[Katrien Deschepper] Our innovation strategy is driven by the mentioned sustainability challenges and our products are our contribution to helping the industry address them. We believe that the use of feed additives will play a key role in securing the future supply of high-quality animal protein in a more sustainable, resilient and productive way.

That’s why we dedicate our in vitro and in vivo research budget, as well as human capital resources, to innovations that are truly market driven and provide relevant answers to the sustainability challenges of our evolving industry.

Together with our different stakeholders we monitor the impact of our product innovations on the sustainability of their daily operations. For instance, we keep track of their improved production results, important savings on feed costs, reduction in antibiotic usage and enhanced quality of the feed and meat. Based on this feedback, we further tailor our feed additive concepts, practical recommendations and in-depth assistance in such a way as to enable even better sustainability achievements together.

[Feedinfo] When it comes to the cost-efficient use of scarce resources, what is the main challenge(s) that your nutritional solutions can help solve here? And how effective are they at helping to mitigate farmers’ input costs?

[Steven Beckers] Prices of major feed raw materials, such as cereal grains, legumes, oils, fats and inorganic phosphates, have been increasing over the last two years and recently exploded to an unseen level. Together with the scarcity of such commodity feedstuffs, it has forced feed producers worldwide to use more alternative ingredients to maintain profitability. The challenge lies in adopting strategies that make better use of such cheaper alternative feedstuffs. Important here is safeguarding feed digestibility, animal gut health, feed safety and hygiene, as well as fungal or mycotoxin control. 

Steven Beckers
Global Product Manager

First of all, these alternative vegetal sources are typically rich in indigestible Non-Starch Polysaccharides (NSPs) and phytic-phosphorus. This implies a higher need for NSP fibre-degrading and plant phytate-degrading enzymes than before. Key to successful diet reformulation is choosing the right supplemental digestive enzymes for the specific set of available raw materials. Diet reformulation with our Zympex® range of feed enzymes allows for maintaining optimal animal performance but at an affordable feed cost. In fact, we have found that it provides important financial savings and a high degree of flexibility to compound feed formulators, mainly in the selection of their energy and protein sources. This is reached by upgrading the overall digestibility and reducing the anti-nutritional impact of alternative plant feedstuffs in monogastric farm animals.

[Arno Duchateau] Secondly, the scarcity of major feedstuffs and the demand for local alternatives also implies a higher risk for feed safety due to fungal contamination and mycotoxins. As a consequence, animals will be exposed to a higher concentration and more broad range of toxins. Therefore, it will be crucial to prevent harm by supplementing final feed with a mycotoxin eliminator, like Elitox®. This allows for the safe and significant replacement of expensive conventional feed raw materials with local, more affordable cereal grains and crop by-products that might be of lower quality or with a higher and broader toxin spectrum. Elitox® facilitates coping with such a broad range of mycotoxins by relying on multiple strategies to prevent mycotoxicosis, as every toxin has it specific subclinical effect. 

[Steven Beckers] Thirdly, another way to control costs in the animal protein supply chain is Elife®, our blend of natural bioactive antioxidants that tackles the problem of oxidative stress. Various global field trials under different stress conditions have proven that its supplementation in the diet of pigs and poultry brings important economic benefits to both commercial farmers and integrators. It improves live slaughter weight and feed conversion of fattening animals, while optimising their carcass yield and meat quality. This is of particular importance during challenging periods of input resource scarcity, during which more animal protein should be produced with less.

Elife® can also minimise economic losses further down the farm-to-fork chain. Thanks to its impact on the oxidative stability of animal products, it can reduce moisture losses of processed meat up to consumption and extend the freshness, shelf life and organoleptic acceptance of animal products throughout the retail storage process, resulting in less food waste.

[Feedinfo] What about limiting the environmental impact of animal production? What are you proposing that will help farmers realise this?

[Katrien Deschepper] During the production process, harmful agents, like heavy metals, can make their way into surroundings. The main driver of environmental impact in animal production is production efficiency, i.e., output of milk, meat, eggs or pollutants per unit of input. All our nutritional solutions are aiming to help farmers unlock improved production efficiency while at the same time reducing emissions and excretions.

This is where our feed enzyme range Zympex® can once again be of help, along with our dietary zinc source, Zincab®. Zympex® can, in conjunction with reducing phosphorus in the diet, be an effective strategy for reducing the excretion of this mineral into the environment by the animal, while Zincab® is a highly bioavailable source of zinc that results in 80% less environmental excretion.


[Feedinfo] Your third challenge focuses on safeguarding animal and human health. What are the key areas you’re exploring here and offering solutions for? 

Arno Duchateau
Global Product Manager

[Arno Duchateau] There is a clear link between intestinal health and zootechnical performance. The destruction of the gut epithelial wall by inflammation and diseases can lead to undigested feed, which can cause pathogenic microflora to flourish. This can create a vicious cycle that impacts feed efficiency. As more alternative raw materials are entering animal diets that are less digestible and often spoiled with microbial contaminations, the risk of gut inflammation and enteritis increases.

Butifour® is a highly concentrated source of butyric acid which can benefit gut health in multiple ways, from stimulating digestive enzyme secretion and epithelial development to steering gut microbiota and avoiding inflammation. 

This ensures that feed ingredients are properly digested and absorbed by the animal, resulting in a lower feed conversion ratio and higher production efficiency. Supporting gut health with Butifour® also prevents intestinal diseases and reduces the amount of medical treatments.

Bacterial as well as viral threats are becoming more and more important. Therefore, it is crucial to include strong antibacterial and antiviral agents in the diet. Medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) C6-C12 are powerful molecules with proven effects against common bacteria and viruses. N-Force® is a synergistic blend based on free MCFAs to improve gut health of monogastrics and offers total protection against common enteric disorders in pigs and poultry. Moreover, N-Force® can replace and/or reduce the overall use of antibiotics responsible for antimicrobial resistance.

] We’ve had a look at the solutions that make up your sustainability offering, but there is also the economics to consider. What impact can these solutions have on producers’ bottom lines?

[Steven Beckers] With regards to our bioactive natural antioxidant Elife®, its contributions can impact the animal protein supply chain. By strongly reducing oxidative stress in production animals, it can cost-effectively amplify meat yield and table eggs while using less inputs, such as feed and the number of animals needed. In finishing pigs, for instance, it can save around 10kg of feed per animal through a faster final growth. When looking at a 10,000-pig operation, this implies saving around 100 MT of final feed per each metric ton of its dietary supplementation. Overall, the use of 1 MT of Elife® can save up to 5 truckloads of feed, or 525 litres of diesel, assuming that the average travel distance of each feed truck is 300 kilometres.

[Katrien Deschepper] It is clear that a system-wide approach is needed that considers both environmental cost and economic cost of the diet, but these examples prove that both goals can go hand in hand and that is what will make our future sustainable.


Published in association with Impextraco