Novus Banks on Innovation as It Eyes Becoming Leader in Gut Health Solutions – INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

Source: Novus International, Inc via Feedinfo

02 November 2021 – In April this year Alfred Zimmerman was named Novus International’s new chief innovation officer, taking on, as his top priority, the expansion of the American feed additive maker’s product portfolio. Through identifying and engaging in innovative collaborations, like its recent partnership with in-grain enzyme company, Agrivida, he is planning on bringing an array of new technologies and services to the company to better serve its customers.

Governing this strategy is Novus International’s Project Destiny, a multi-phase restructuring it adopted in 2020 that will streamline operations and place increased importance on the organisation’s core competencies, businesses, and technologies. At the time the company’s leadership highlighted the important role that Novus’s proprietary HMTBa molecule – a naturally-occurring methionine precursor – would play in this new company trajectory and shared its plan to explore more applications of the technology to help unlock an improved understanding of animal gut health and boost R&D.

So, what are some of these applications for HMTBa Novus has been investigating in the year since the announcement? And what are some of the other new technologies it is exploring with partners to boost its line-up of products and services?

In this Industry Perspectives, Mr. Zimmerman answers these questions for us and takes Feedinfo through what his current and future plans are now that he has taken the reins of Novus International’s R&D division.

[Feedinfo] When Novus International announced its Project Destiny restructuring, it made its HMTBa molecule a centre piece of that strategy. How exactly does the molecule facilitate the core principles of Project Destiny?


Alfred Zimmerman
Chief Innovation Officer
Novus International, Inc

 [Alfred Zimmerman] One core principle of Project Destiny is to enhance sustainability; not only for our company as a provider of health through nutrition, but also to improve the sustainability of our customer’s operations by working directly with them as a trusted advisor and offering solutions that can truly impact the health and profitability of their business.

HMTBa is the foundation that Novus was built on. The molecule sets our solutions apart from others in the feed additive market. While our HMTBa methionine solutions have been around for 30 years, we continue to explore the benefits and mode of action of HMTBa. This includes how it helps to improve the absorption of our MINTREX® organic trace minerals solutions through its unique bis-chelation, which also improves these minerals’ stability throughout the intestinal tract. These characteristics have resulted in several well-documented benefits for the animal, ranging from improvements in structural integrity and performance during gut health challenges to allowing for better tolerance and response to vaccination programmes.

Many of our swine customers are concerned by the changing regulations on zinc oxide use, especially since completely removing zinc oxide from the diet can increase the likelihood of post-weaning diarrhoea. Our HMTBa solutions, including ALIMET® feed supplement and MHA® feed supplement, ACTIVATE® DA nutritional feed acid and MINTREX® Cu trace mineral, along with CIBENZA® DP100 protease feed additive, promote proper gut health and have been shown to greatly reduce the impacts of removing zinc oxide from swine diets. 

[Feedinfo] It is clear that you have applied this molecule to a number of your products. Since Project Destiny’s announcement more than a year ago, what other applications have you explored?

[Alfred Zimmerman] We are currently working to bring to market the next generation of our ACTIVATE® product line. As I mentioned, the ACTIVATE® solutions contain HMTBa blended with organic acids. We are currently looking to expand this line by leveraging our HMTBa ester technology.  Early studies with this next generation of ACTIVATE® indicate improved efficacy in mitigating several gut health challenges.

[Feedinfo] Exactly where are you in the process of bringing this next generation of ACTIVATE
® to market?

[Alfred Zimmerman] Each project follows a gated development process to ensure the science is sound and the value is demonstrable. As we reach a point where we are ready to launch, we will communicate the details to our customers and the industry.

[Feedinfo] Mr Zimmerman, you were instrumental is realising
Novus International’s collaborative partnership with biotechnology company Agrivida, which was announced in January this year. How did this come about and where are you seeing growth opportunities for their in-grain enzyme products?

[Alfred Zimmerman] A major focus of Novus’s Project Destiny is to incorporate novel and innovative technologies into our 30-year-old company. With our strong focus on science and product development, Novus has both the means and the desire to expand Agrivida’s reach faster and more efficiently than the company could on its own.

It is important to note that this partnership is not just about Agrivida’s way of delivering enzymes. The ability to embed additives directly in the grain is completely new. We call this method INTERIUS™ technology and it is a way of more sustainably producing feed additives. INTERIUS™ eliminates the need for processing with additional carriers that take up nutritional space in the feed. For instance, customers have the flexibility to add GRAINZYME® Phos™, a phytase expressed in corn grain through INTERIUS™ technology, to the diet via a 25kg bag or by using the bulk delivery of the grain in the feed. INTERIUS™ allows for simplification in the supply chain and production operations. Overall, the in-grain delivery system simplifies and optimises animal protein production.

[Feedinfo] What has been the results of that partnership thus far? And what are the other products that you have in development using the INTERIUS

[Alfred Zimmerman] Novus has commercialised GRAINZYME® ENERGAIN™, a dry source of ß-glucanase with some mannanase activity that is expressed inside a grain of corn through INTERIUS™ technology, similarly to GRAINZYME® Phos™.

Glucanase is part of a category of enzymes known as carbohydrases. This group includes all enzymes that break down carbohydrates. ENERGAIN™ breaks down a specific carbohydrate (ß-glucan) to improve digestibility of feedstuffs and improve the energy release to the animal. Early studies show ENERGAIN™ supplementation increases meat yield over the negative control when GRAINZYME® Phos™ was used as the phytase source. This finding will be confirmed in follow-up studies.

We are also in the early stages of developing the first non-enzyme product created with INTERIUS™ technology. This new solution is aimed at improving gut health and immune response in livestock. 

[Feedinfo] How do you see these products and your Cibenza family of enzyme solutions living side by side?

[Alfred Zimmerman] Novus believes the GRAINZYME® product line is complementary to our other product families within our portfolio of gut health solutions.

[Feedinfo] What other new technologies do you see presenting growth opportunities for Novus International? What are you exploring currently and what are you prioritising?

[Alfred Zimmerman] Sustainability has always been a core pillar of Novus’s solutions. Whether it is the benefits of reducing nitrogen by feeding ALIMET® and MHA® over DL-methionine, or the better utilisation of soybean meal and the reduced impact from trypsin inhibitor with CIBENZA® EP150, Novus continues to incorporate sustainability into its solutions. The fact is sustainability has been a long-standing focus of the animal agriculture industry. And with the concerns surrounding climate change seemingly at their peak, our industry is identifying how it impacts the environment and actively seeking solutions.

We hear regularly how methane emissions contribute to climate change and how our industry must do more to curb emissions without impacting dairy or beef quality, supply, or cost. At Novus we are engaged in several programmes looking to reduce methane emissions from dairy operations. This includes evaluating how our current essential oil products, NEXT ENHANCE® 300 and NEXT ENHANCE® 150, and the derivatives of those products can positively impact enteric methane production.

With our parent company Mitsui & Co., we are also engaging the industry with solutions to capture methane emissions from manure and producing renewable natural gas (RNG) using biodigesters. Combined with Novus’s nutritional solutions that can help to improve dairy performance, capturing methane from manure provides a strong sustainability solution for our customers and can help improve overall operations.

[Feedinfo] Your innovation pipeline seems like it is quite active. As the new Chief Innovation Officer, are you planning on maintaining this current product development pace? What is your vision for R&D at Novus International in the coming years?

[Alfred Zimmerman] Our vision through Project Destiny is for Novus to be a leader in gut health solutions for the sustainable production of protein. Innovation is a core tenant of Destiny and this vision. Novus is further embracing a culture of collaboration and open innovation. We are engaging with our industry partners as well as bringing ideas from adjacent industries to develop solutions to meet our customers’ needs in a collaborative way. 

Published in association with Novus International, Inc.