By Joseph Harvey
March 30, 2017
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has entered the poultry probiotic space by establishing a strategic collaboration with Danish firm Novozymes.
The two firms will work together to research, produce, market and sell a portfolio of probiotics designed to provide poultry with beneficial bacteria. The new products will also be developed as alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters for poultry hatcheries.
This deal highlights the growing trend for leading animal health firms to develop more natural products. Probiotics are naturally-occurring, live microbes that can improve the gut flora of animals. The improvement of an animal's gut flora leads to significant advances in overall animal health.
Boehringer noted: "Rising global consumption of meat and legislative and consumer-driven curbs on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal farming have increased demand for alternatives such as probiotics."
As part of the agreement, Boehringer will market and distribute Novozymes' FloraMax probiotic in the US poultry hatchery industry. Boehringer said it plans on expanding the scope of this distribution set-up to other global markets in the coming years. No financial aspects of the collaboration were disclosed.
"Poultry producers are looking for improved ways to deliver on the growing global need for sustainable protein," said George Heidgerken, global head of livestock at Boehringer Ingelheim. "Collaborating with Novozymes enables Boehringer Ingelheim to enter an exciting new segment of products to provide alternatives in an environment that is increasingly challenged by antibiotic bans."
Boehringer to benefit from Novozymes know-now
Novozymes produces a wide range of industrial enzymes and microorganisms across several industries.
Prior to the Boehringer partnership, the firm has previously worked alongside French animal feed additives specialist Adisseo on poultry probiotics. Last year, Alterion was introduced to the US, a number of countries in the Middle East and South East Asia – the fruits of the collaboration between Novozymes and Adisseo. The two partners collaborated in May 2015 to develop an alternative to antibiotic growth promoters.
Adisseo and Novozymes previously estimated the value of the probiotics market to be at €200-300 million ($216-325 million) with 8-10% annual growth.
Additional Novozymes work
In the area of animal nutrition, Novozymes produces feed enzymes for the livestock industry in collaboration with DSM. This partnership has yielded phytase enzymes for poultry and swine feed, as well as protease enzymes for livestock feed.
Novozymes is also active in the aquaculture market with a range of sustainable microbial solutions for improving water quality, which leads to reduced risk of disease and increased yields.
At the beginning of 2017, a new study identified an increased use of probiotics directly fed to animals by livestock and poultry producers as a response to the loss of shared use antibiotics in the US. According to the study by Brakke Consulting, US producers have upped their use of enzymes, prebiotics, oligosaccharides, organic acids and phytogenics.
According to market data firm Fractovia: "The probiotics market penetration in the animal feed sector is estimated to exceed $4.2 billion at an annual growth rate of 8% over 2016-2023. The evolution can be credited to the growing consumer consciousness associated with animal health and claim for high-quality meat."
This valuation means the veterinary probiotics market portion is around the same size as the animal antiparasitics space, which is also around $4bn in size.
Animal Pharm has recently been tracking an increase in R&D related to natural products in animal health. While there are many established feed additive firms already active in this space, several younger businesses are emerging to capitalize on a greater investor interest in animal health's move away from antibiotics towards natural alternatives.
Earlier this week, Animal Pharm interviewed Bactana Animal Health – a firm that is just one example of young veterinary market-focused start-ups aiming to develop natural products. The firm pointed out the growing consumer pressure – especially in the US – concerning natural and antibiotic-free food products.
Feed firms provide market growth estimates
In 2016, Danish company Chr. Hansen bought US livestock probiotics firm Nutritional Physiology Company for $185m. At the time, Chr. Hansen said demand for natural products that advance health and productivity in livestock is rising and the expected annual growth for microbial solutions in this particular industry is 7-9%.
Earlier in March, Canadian firm Lallemand Animal Nutrition acquired US feed additive specialist Nova Microbial Technologies. This deal provided Lallemand with Nova's portfolio of probiotics for livestock.
Animal Pharm has also recently covered the expanding probiotic portfolios belonging to companies such as Evonik, Prosol and Biomin.
Natural products were highlighted as a key growth driver by several of animal health's industry leaders at the recent Animal Health Investment Europe forum in London.