Olmix Group’s annual meeting—The Breizh Algae Tour 2016—was held recently in Amsterdam, and it focused on the important topic of the healthy food chain.

The company presented details on its current programs to grow plants, raise animals and process food without pesticides, antibiotics and chemical additives. Company executives explained that the increasingly important challenge of the healthy food chain can be met with its innovations in algae technology and unique active molecules: the MSPs (marine sulfated polysaccharides).

The meeting also celebrated the 80th anniversary of Melspring International B.V. (part of the Olmix Group) and was attended by 400 delegates from 44 countries.

Hervé Balusson, Olmix CEO, and Jean-Marie Bocher, Melspring Managing Director, welcomed attendees. “It is a pleasure to open the Breizh Algae Tour 2016. This year’s event will shed light on the incredible potential of algae and their specific extracts—the MSPs—in different markets worldwide,” said Balusson.

Bocher said the tour is always an “opportunity to exchange opinions and thoughts on how to build a healthy food chain to better feed nine billion people in 2050.”

Plenary sessions featured top-class speakers that presented diverse speeches related to the “One Health, Thanks to Algae!” concept. They updated the audience on how algae can be a powerful tool to reduce antibiotics in livestock production and pesticide use in crop production. Three afternoon seminars focused on Olmix’s main strategic fields of activity: Animal Care, Plant Care and Human Care.

Balusson opened the symposium session by reviewing the latest scientific results of Olmix R&D. He said the 2016 yield has been rich, with the objectivation of MSPs biological activities. MSPs have very diversified functional properties, from immunomodulation to antimicrobial activity, and in healing, digestive health, Balusson added.

The speakers updated attendees about new products in Olmix’s animal care portfolio such as Searup (Innov’space award winner). They said that only the Olmix patented technology can reveal the power of MSPs to provide agriculture, animal nutrition and human nutrition with innovative algae-based solutions.

'We need the sea'

Dr. Martin Scholten, General Director Animal & Marine Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands, kicked off the morning session by talking about the undiscovered nexus between livestock and seaweed production. Dr. Scholten explained that 70 percent of the world is covered by oceans. “We need the sea, and there is a yield gap in the sea. We can harvest so much more valuable ingredients from the sea. The challenge is to apply these products in food and feed. Algae is a very interesting and valuable source of protein, lipids. Even more important is the fine biologically active elements contained in the algae that are called the marine sulfated polysaccharides.

He said there is potential to further select and breed algae varieties, “just like we did the last 50 years with rice and grains. There is a large variation of the algae found in the sea, and variation means that you can select!”

Resistance to antibiobics

Dr. Thomas P. Van Boeckel, postdoctoral research fellow at ETH Zurich (Switzerland), gave an overview of the antibiotics used in feed and the related antibiotic resistance. “The increasing demand for meat consumption is placing pressure for bacteria to evolve antibiotic resistant. If we don’t take actions, antibiotic use could rise 67 percent by 2030.” Dr. Van Boeckel named the Netherlands as an example of countries taking the lead to reduce antibiotic consumption. “This country invested in hygiene measure, nutrition and overall management, against relatively small investments by farmers (€1,000 – €10,000 [US$1,036.99 – US$10,369.85]),” said Dr. Van Boeckel. “However, these may be relatively high investments for famers in other regions of the world.” He also mentioned that the approach of consumer media is influencing the way that people look at the use of antibiotics in livestock production. News headlines have a huge effect on the public perception of agriculture and the way the food is produced. He added, “The public perception is changing and that is even stronger than legislation: the livestock sector has to listen to this.”

“MSPs are a real treasure”

Olmix Group was represented by Dr. Thomas Pavie, Olmix’s “One Health” Director, and Johannes Tuinhof, Melspring’s Commercial Director. Dr. Pavie explained the way Olmix is working with the different products in its portfolio to get the best out of the animals without using antibiotics. “The MSPs found in algae are unique components and a real treasure. They are known to have a positive effect on immunity and gut health, but also have potential to act as antimicrobials,” Dr. Pavie explained. Olmix has developed the SAGA concept, a program including a range of products to boost immunity, gut health and reduce mycotoxins during the whole production period of the animals (for use by the farmer, products in the feed or products applied by the veterinarian). MSPs are an important part of this approach, he said. “The newly opened Breizh Algae School in France is teaching the farmers, vets and nutritionists about the right way to apply these products.”

Tuinhof pointed out the need to reduce pesticide use in the global crop production, saying, “The intensified use of current cropping systems has led to increased pesticide use. China is the biggest consumer of these products. But North America and Europe are also heavy users of pesticides. At Melspring we offer algae-based products that make the plants stronger and more resistant and increase its own stress relief possibilities, hence reducing the need for pesticides. It is the Integrated Plant Health Management approach. This is also beneficial when you think of the changing weather patterns (climate change) where plants will be subjected more to drought and increased rain in some parts of the world.” Tuinhof added that the “natural” approach of reducing pesticide use thanks to algae-based products is “only possible with a change of attitude and a change of focus.”

Melspring’s 80th Anniversary Dinner

During an evening gala, Balusson made the most important announcement of the night: the recent acquisition of Farmers House factory in the Netherlands by Melspring. With the acquisition of the factory, Melspring will be able to further develop innovative fertilizer solutions and to increase its production output to serve the growing demand of customers worldwide.