Anpario CEO Richard Edwards recently gave an interview to Animal Pharm. Read the full interview below.
The UK’s fastest expanding feed additive company Anpario is scaling the heights of commercial success and market penetration with a new branding strategy for its diverse products in the global market place. Anpario’s chief executive Richard Edwards talked to Animal Pharm analyst Malcolm Flanagan about the company’s long journey from humble origins in the thirties to UK prominence today.
This year has been a seminal one for UK feed additive specialist Anpario. After several years of brand acquisition, expansion and relocating its headquarters the company is now able to boast an ‘umbrella brand’ for its broad product range around the world.
Previously the company was well known for its Meriden, Kiotechagil and Optivite brands. After intensive work Anpario has simplified the business so that its marketing, communications and product branding come under the Anpario product label.
The new branding strategy enables Nottingham-based Anpario to “more effectively market our broad range of feed additives to the end user”. However, The Meriden, Kiotechagil and Optivite brands have not completely disappeared as it still needs to retain these brands on certain country specific packaging due to local registration requirements. However, the company’s registration team are currently working with regulatory departments in those countries to notify them of the company name change and the company’s new updated packaging.
What has been the reaction of clients and potential customers to the radical changes taking place at Anpario in 2017?
“We have had a very positive reaction from our clients who recognize that with a single company brand we are better able to communicate more clearly our corporate vision, philosophy and values, as well as concentrating more marketing and R&D spend behind one brand rather than three,” said Anpario chief executive Richard Edwards.
“The benefit of investing in a single umbrella brand is that when Anpario launches a new product customers around the world can be assured that the utmost innovation, quality of manufacture, customer care and efficacy of the new product is to the same high standard as our existing products.
“Very few of our products are tailor-made because we undertake extensive trial work and research to design the optimum formulation which is proven to deliver the best possible performance of the product. On the occasion where we have produced a tailor-made product, often due to country specific requirements, then invariably it will be supplied in Anpario company branding but with a different product name on the label.”
Anpario’s broad range of feed additives are sometimes used to offer customers a specific feed additive program by combining its expertise in phytogenics, organic acids and mycotoxin binders to give a combination solution. This then addresses livestock health aspects such as: the life-stage of the animal; antibiotic free requirements, organic production and bacterial challenges. Whilst at the same time improving the production performance metrics of the animal.
Scaling the heights
Mr Edwards characterized the Anpario journey as akin to “climbing a very high mountain”. It began in the thirties with a small feed firm Agil. The company was purchased by Anpario in 2006 with the intention of driving a ‘buy and build strategy’ in the specialist feed additive sector.
“At the end of every new leg is a pause for breath, or camp in climbing terms, when we need to restructure, rebrand or integrate an acquisition. For example, in 2009 we acquired Optivite and subsequently transferred all Agil’s production volumes into the Optivite production plant at Manton Wood in Nottinghamshire. We also moved our head office to Manton Wood where there was a dedicated finance team. It didn’t stop there, because since 2009 we have invested over £2million ($2.59 million) in the production plant. Subsequently we acquired Meriden, set up wholly owned subsidiaries in China, Brazil and the US and now rebranding solely to Anpario. As well as doing the day job,” said Mr Edwards.
“As with a very high mountain we can’t yet see the top so there’s a lot more of the journey still to do and for this next stage we have been building a team to take us there. ”
In recent times most of Anpario’s growth has been international in character where global population increases and gross domestic growth is more pronounced. In recognition of Anpario’s export efforts the company was awarded the UK Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in 2015.
Currently the company has 15 different product brands which account for about 80% of sales. The key product areas are eubiotics, which covers our leading gut health products in phytogenics; organic acids and prebiotics, plus a mycotoxin binder range. In addition, there are nutritional products such as omega 3 formulations and enzymes.
Anpario products are designed by taking “an animal first approach”. The company’s philosophy is that the feed technology should work in harmony with the natural aspects of the animal’s biology to promote healthy growth. Hence Anpario’s corporate strapline ‘Nature’s Answer’. The product range is predominantly aimed at the poultry, swine, ruminant and aquaculture markets. It also has a few customers operating in the pet sector.
Mr Edwards said getting closer to the end user of its products is a key strategy component which requires technical sales teams to explain the company’s technology, especially its unique carrier matrix systems and the production benefits it can deliver.
“In terms of our trading position our business is very internationally spread, with almost 90% of our sales outside the UK. I tend not to measure our success by our position in the market preferring to focus on customer satisfaction and growing the company profitably. This means we can give a decent return to our shareholders as well as invest in research and development to ensure we keep bringing innovative and high performing products to market in years to come,” said Mr Edwards.
Asia Pacific including China is Anpario’s biggest sales region. However, it sees emerging markets generally as being the ones with the most growth potential due to expanding populations and increasing consumption of meat protein products driven by an increase in wealth. The US is also a high priority for the company as it moves away from antibiotic growth promoters, driven by regulatory changes and consumer pressure, and an increased interest in alternative solutions.
The company’s sales in 2016 rose 4% to £24.3 million compared to the previous year. Net profits rose 10% to $3.4m compared to 2015. Anpario is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market. The company employs more than 100 employees both in the UK and overseas. In February this year, Anpario bought its Australian distributor Cobbett. The firm has been Anpario’s distributor for 20 years, supplying products to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
“We believe the future for the feed additive market is positive. This is driven by the need to feed a growing and increasingly wealthy world population coupled with the move to reduce the use of antibiotics. As a result feed additives have an opportunity to grow their share of the global animal health market,” said Mr Edwards.
“Those feed additive companies which are well financed are able to invest more in research and development to design products with strong efficacy in keeping livestock healthy and therefore able to enhance an animal’s ability to present a robust response to the environment. Moreover, a healthy gut delivers better nutrient utilization which in turn improves the production performance of the animal giving the customer a better return on investment. Anpario has also found that when feeding its products to the parent stock only there has also been an improved performance in the progeny, supporting the old adage, healthy parents, healthy offspring.”
Anpario does not see feed additives eating significantly into the pharmaceutical market. It feels there will be a reduction in the use of antibiotic growth promoters around the world as governments deal with the issue of antibiotic resistance. Certain feed additive products have the potential to be a substitute solution if used in the correct way and also as part of a holistic approach which includes good animal husbandry and disinfection of water supply. The company has seen this achieved with some customers in various parts of the world.
Research has shown that when the use of antibiotics are reduced so too are the resistant bacteria. Mr Edwards believes antibiotics can still be used but they must be used sensibly when really needed. There is also an opportunity for feed additives to play an important role in keeping the animal healthy by managing gut microflora.
“Just as natural feed additives and therapeutic antibiotics complement each other, so too can feed additives and vaccines. Anpario recently conducted a number of poultry trials by using our leading phytogenic product, Orego-Stim, in combination with a coccidiosis vaccination program. Poor growth performance can quite often occur following vaccination of the chicks which subsequently impacts the overall performance of the birds. By using Orego-Stim, we were able to eliminate the impact so that the birds performed to their genetic potential,” noted Mr Edwards.
“The feed additive industry needs to ensure that regulation is sensibly balanced between ensuring suppliers of products are using safe raw materials and allowing innovation to happen within the industry. A significant proportion of new ideas come from smaller entrepreneurial companies and individuals working in a free-thinking environment. If regulation becomes too onerous then great ideas will never see the light of day.”