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R&D with a customer focus

Posted February 19, 2018

A year on after joining Kemin Asia Pacific as the R&D director of its Animal Nutrition and Health division, Dr. Francesca Blasco speaks to eFeedLink about recent research activities and innovations at Kemin.


eFeedLink: How are you bringing your previous experience in the human health business to drive research activities at Kemin?

Dr. Blasco: "With the scientific rigor that comes from my previous work experience, I hope to bring new perspectives to Kemin. I have a strong focus on people and believe in Kemin’s Servant Leadership principles, which are essentially about putting people before business. Coming from Big Pharma, I see many commonalities, such as being able to see the big picture, and break down big, lofty visions into small goals that people can focus on and execute day-by-day."

eFeedLink: And what can customers expect to see from the work done by you and your team?

Dr. Blasco: "Customers can continue to trust us to be their one-stop solutions provider. We place them at the centre of our attention. We see the customers’ need from their point of view because we believe that by addressing their needs through our solutions can we be successful. We work in close partnership with our customers’ R&D department, especially the integrators. As an example, farms today want to know in real-time the conditions of their feed along the production system. Kemin works in partnership with them to tailor diagnostic kits which measure the levels of contaminants and nutrients in their feed. In such cases, a one-size-fits-all solution would not work for them."

eFeedLink: Could you share with us some recent case studies on how Kemin is helping customers in the region to solve the problems that they are facing?

Dr. Blasco: "More and more so, from our conversations with customers, we see that mite infestation of feed is a widespread problem in Asia, possibly contributed by the high heat and humidity in the region. This problem is currently being studied, and there are different schools of thought regarding the source of mites – some say that feed is naturally contaminated with mites in the field while others say that mites get into the feed after it arrives in the feed mill. We are currently collaborating with one of our largest customers to test new innovations in grain protection."

eFeedLink: This sounds to be an interesting issue to be studied. What is your view of current practices such as fumigation and grain cooling in controlling insect infestation?

Dr. Blasco: "Customers mentioned that the current fumigation practices did not meet their expectations in terms of efficacy and safety. Not to mention the current emphasis on sustainable and safe practices, considering that the fumigation of grain often uses chemicals which are hazardous to both animals and humans. Kemin remains strongly focused on developing products that harness the innate ability of natural ingredients to develop effective solutions which are not only safe for animals but also for humans. With regards to grain cooling, I can imagine that the economic impact would not be small, as cooling consumes energy."

eFeedLink: Two of Kemin’s most recent antibiotic alternative products include COZANTE™ and Aleta™. With animal nutrition companies like Kemin offering such alternatives, a role traditionally in the domain of animal pharmaceutical firms, where does Kemin fit in and are there complementary roles for both business groups in future?

Dr. Blasco: "We believe that the industry should stop the irresponsible use of antibiotics, meaning their use as a growth promoter at sub-therapeutic levels. Coming from my background in Big Pharma, I know the real risk of antibiotic resistance. However, it would be very challenging to completely remove the use of antibiotics in production systems, as we would still need to rely on them in the case of disease outbreaks. I believe that there have always been and would continue to be complementary roles for both animal nutrition and pharma companies to work in parallel with one another for a win-win situation."

This article would be featured in the March issue of LIVESTOCK and FEED Business. Also look out for the continuation of our conversation with Dr. Blasco as we find out more from her about Kemin's antibiotic alternative portfolio.