Sunday, June 30, 2013

Peter Coutteau, Nutriad’s specialised business unit

Peter Coutteau was first introduced to aquaculture as an undergraduate at the University of Gent, Belgium in the 1980s. Since his career has spanned both the academic and business sides of the industry working at the Laboratory for Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center and the INVE group respectively.
Following a restructuration of the INVE group in January 2009, all activities of INVE Aquaculture related to feedmill specialties and farm nutrition, including the support team, research activities, test centers and product lines of aquaculture additives, were incorporated into Nutriad, global supplier of specialty additives in aquaculture and agriculture.
Coutteau setup Nutriad’s specialised business unit to further develop the feed additive business in aquaculture. Nutriad had been active in aquaculture since the very beginning but lacked a species-specific focus for aqua.

This interview appeared in the May June 2013 edition of International Aquafeed magazine

Natural ingredients and nature play a big role in your products and the promotion of the company. Why this emphasis?

The use of natural alternatives to antibiotics and synthetic products is a growing trend in the feed industry. Our logo ‘Applying Nature’ can be found in the basics of most of our feed additives. The application of natural compounds derived from a variety of sources including yeasts, botanicals, peptides, and animal by-products is at the top of the agenda of our researchers in the different species. The list of activities we source from natural compounds includes bactericide action, digestive stimulation, immune-stimulation, anti-oxidants, anti-parasitics to name a few.


Why/how are Nutriad additives ‘smart’?

Additives are ‘smart’ when they are based on a solid understanding of market and customer needs. Also, they need to be designed through a creative approach to product development, which is combining fundamental knowledge, lab testing and field verification to reach a solution that is satisfactory in terms of efficacy but at the same time realistic in terms of time required to reach the solution and cost for the end-user. The result is an effective solution for animal nutrition and health challenges faced by our customers.

What are the biggest challenges aquaculture faces?

As Nutriad covers all species, the differences in development stages of the industry become more clear. Aquaculture has grown at a staggering speed the past two decades with several species developing from scratch: salmon, penaeid shrimp, bass, bream, tilapia, pangasius.
Aquaculture is a young industry, which in practice means that producers (and their suppliers) in most countries are in the transition between the first and the second generation. The global aquafeed sector is volume wise 25 times smaller than the agri-feed industry and at the same time enormously diverse in terms of species, formulations, culture intensity, climatological and cultural conditions.
This results in a geographic fragmentation of the feed business which makes it much more challenging for an additive supplier to develop a global business. By contrast the live stock business is dominated by monogastrics, swine and poultry, with more commonly accepted farming practices around the world. The aqua business is much more dynamic than the agri business, and is facing still major challenges due to its recent and fast development.
From a technical point of view, reducing the impact of outbreaks of diseases and parasitic infestations on production efficiency is surely one of the biggest challenges, particularly under conditions where cost efficiency is calling for lower cost feeds and higher culture density in the farm.
From a business perspective, aquaculture production of many species is still under full organisation and that affects all the stakeholders in the industry. The salmon industry is the most structured aqua industry in terms of legislation, organisation of the processing chain and export activity, transparency, health prevention and genetic programs. We are seeing similar developments in other major producing countries such as the shrimp industry in Thailand and pangasius in Vietnam but there is still a long way to go and a lot of aquaculture volume continues to be produced in less organised business environments.

How is Nutriad responding to these various challenges?

The aquafeed market offers great opportunities for the development of innovative feed additives. There is still an enormous potential to reduce feed cost and improve health prevention through dietary supplements. The significant improvements in production efficiency and cost observed during field-testing of some of our digestibility enhancers and health promoting additives confirm this potential. However, this industry is fragmented over many different species and regions, each with their specific challenges and problems. Therefore, only companies that invest strongly in innovation and specialised customer support can play a significant role in the development of a more sustainable and profitable aquaculture industry.

Food safety is very important to everyone involved in the industry. How does Nutriad ensure the safest possible products?

Food safety starts from the ingredient selection at the stage of product design. Every ingredient we use is carefully selected for quality and feed chain security. All manufacturing facilities operate to the highest quality standards and systems that are independently audited. We ensure full traceability and product integrity to our customers.

Tell us a bit more about Quorum Sensing Technology.

Nutriad is the first additive company to apply Quorum Sensing technology in practice to reduce pathogenicity of bacterial pathogens in aquaculture and livestock. Recently, Nutriad has launched new products with well-documented activities on the inhibition of quorum sensing of bacterial pathogens which result in significantly improved yields in aqua/agri production.

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