A UK feed manufacturing company is well into a major rebranding exercise in a concerted effort to extend its influence and grab a larger proportion of the global animal feed market.
And it appears to be succeeding. The new BOCM PAULS International business, has replaced the former BOCM PAULS Exports, and is seeing a significant increase in sales of specialist feeds to producers across the world.
Explaining some of the rationale behind the new image, international director Tony Suckling said: “We see ourselves as partners with distributors and farmers in the European Union and other parts of the world, rather than just run-of-the-mill exporters of feed.
“In addition to our compounds, we are now offering speciality blends and co-products, as well as nutrition advice to provide pig producers, for example, with what we are calling ‘total solutions’ for their feeding needs. This extends right through from starter feeds to speciality blends for post-weaners, growers and finishers.
“We are also developing special diets for hyper-prolific sows, which is where we see future growth in the pig industry, particularly in the EU, where total herd numbers have been dropping for some time.”
Underpinning this work, the company has launched a major on-farm commercial research trial in the EU studying performance from birth through to slaughter and carcase value.
“We will be looking at growth rates, feed conversion, metabolism rates and carcase weights and seeing the effects of feed on the performance and value of pigs,” said Mr Suckling.
While the trial itself was being conducted on farms in Denmark, Mr Suckling said the company would be able to use the data across all its markets to help it develop new diets for the future prosperity of pig producers everywhere.
He explained that the company had seen several changes since the new business was first established after a management buy-out in 1998, when it was producing just over 2 million tonnes of compound feed a year for the pig industry mainly from its English headquarters in Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk.
The company is now also manufacturing blends for the ruminant and game sectors, as well as for pigs, and has co-product contracts using by-products from the brewing industry, as well as a biscuit company that it has recently acquired.
While still seeing the UK as an important market for its products, Mr Suckling said: “Our international export business has been growing apace and in 2001 we decided to draw up a five-year-plan to identify target centres where we could expand even further.”
This proved to be extremely successful, and the company has rolled that plan forward, with another five-year-plan to allow it to continue its growth across the world, securing its current markets in Europe and the Middle and Far East, while at the same time looking for business in South America and Russia.
“I am confident we can continue growing, in spite of what many describe as a ‘contracting market’, because of the quality of our feeds and our personal service, where we ensure we maintain close contact with our distributors to help them boost sales of our added-value products,” said Mr Suckling.
While he did not expect the EU pig herd to shrink much more, he admitted that the way it was distributed across the region in the future was in doubt and that could lead to some real challenges as the industry was rebalanced.
“However, we have excellent partners in markets all over Europe and other parts of the world, as well as the expertise in feed, and we see no reason why we shouldn’t start providing quality feeds for other sectors, such as ruminants, poultry and game, as well.
Last year BOCM PAULS invested more than £1 million in upgrading and expanding its manufacturing facilities in Bury St Edmunds to help it cater to current demand and prepare for the expected growth.
The Bury plant – with a production capacity in excess of 40,000 tonnes – is the largest speciality feed production unit of its kind in Europe and is the leading supplier of piglet creep feed and starter feed in the EU. The company also has mills in Germany and Spain to supply local markets, and it is considering the possibility of constructing more abroad.
“There are a number of exciting areas to be explored over the next few years and we are busy training up a young team of technical and key account managers to help us take the company forward and continue to develop new markets in Japan, the Philippines and the Far East in the future,” explained Mr Suckling.
His “new generation” team includes South African-born nutritionist Bianca Theeruth, who holds a Masters degree in agriculture, majoring in pig nutrition, from the University of KwaZulu in South Africa and has also studied at the University of Edinburgh, after winning a Nelson Mandela Scholarship.
“She is technically very, very good and is bringing in a wider perspective and new ideas from another continent, where she was working with on-farm formulations in South Africa and Swaziland, to help us develop new products for our markets in future,” he said.
Describing herself as “passionate about pigs,” Bianca specialises in developing total nutrition packages, with different formulations to meet the growing pig’s requirements.
She says: “I see a great future in the pig industry, but we have to find nutritional innovations for pigs. That is the key to increasing production, even if herd numbers stabilise, with new mixes of probiotic and novel nutrients and simulation modeling to help cut the cost of trials.”
Mr Suckling pointed out that BOCM PAULS International had already identified three new key materials to enhance the nutrient capability of feeds, but he refused to identify them, saying: “It’s all part of our search for new alternative protein resources to meet the growing environmental and animal welfare demands, as well as the need for increased production in pigs.
Looking to the future, Mr Suckling is particularly excited about BOCM PAULS International moving into other sectors, with special diets for ruminants and game, as well as poultry, while maintaining its growth in the pig industry.
“We have all the supply technology available for multi-species and we are already working with some partners and looking for another new ones in these additional fields,” he said.
But he stressed that his company’s success lay in the special person-to-person relationships it offered to its customers everywhere.
“Sure, it means a lot of travel, many meetings and the cost of constant availability, but it is all about management and really worthwhile and it has proved to be extremely cost-effective, while helping this small family-orientated company to continue to grow wherever we work.”