Microbe key to feed additive revolution

Dr Chris Nelson (centre) together with Kemin Asia’s team: (from left) Dr Chaiyot Rawekchom, Dr Wantanee Paisarnakanee, Dr Tan Hai Meng and Dr Liong Kah Heng

Kemin is demystifying the gut microbiome in a bid to break  away from antibiotics and  develop new and more effective solutions that are safe and deliver striking growth performance, according to Dr Chris Nelson, president and CEO of Kemin Industries.

“Understanding how the microbiome – the trillions of micro-organisms that inhabit the digestive tract – interacts with the host animal will absolutely change the face of the animal feed industry as well as human health,” said Dr Nelson.

The use of antibiotics has been researched extensively over the past four decades. However, what researchers still do not clearly understand are their side effects, how to quantify them and how non-anti- biotic technologies affect changes in the microbiome.

Kemin is using newly invented molecular genetic technologies such as shotgun sequencing and 16S rRNA for identifying genes and gaining insight into the role of commensal organisms in the microbiome.

These powerful tools help researchers identify the bacteria in the microbiome and assist in monitoring changes in that particular environment because many of  those organisms cannot be cultured in a lab.

Presently, Kemin is the sole feed additive player in the market supplying a comprehensive range of technologies for replacing antibiotic growth promoters in feed. These range from probiotics, acidiers, essential oils, prebiotics and innate immune stimulants to epithelia supports to stimulate epithelial cell development.

“Demand for non-AGP products in the feed is really consumer driven,” Dr Nelson said, adding that animal feed is an intrinsi- cally important part of human food production that provides a basis for all animal protein-based nutrition in the world.

Keep innovating

Kemin is committed to research aimed at improving animal performance, nutritional value and wholesomeness of feed and food. The company has earmarked 7% of its annual turnover of around USD$50 million for R&D.

Kemin is especially focused on ways to re ne encapsulation technologies that enable targeted release in a particular place within the intestinal tract. So far, Kemin has been at the fore- front of research into ways to encapsulate lysine for ruminants. The newer generation of encapsulation technologies will offer even better performance, he added.

Development of encapsulation technologies and basic research in this area is conducted at one of the Kemin research facilities in Cavriago, Italy.

“It is really about the speed at which the feed industry adopts those technologies that will determine how fast we are able to grow the business,” said Dr Nelson.

He sees a large push towards natural products rather than chemicals for preserving the quality of raw ingredients. Kemin is developing a market for naturally derived tocopherols and polyphenols from plants that can be used as antioxidants. A series of new products are in the works that will be specically designed to address consumer demand.


Animal feed makes up about 50% of Kemin’s total business. Nutraceuticals, pet food, personal care products and human food represent the other 50%.

Kemin was founded in 1961 and continues to focus on improving the overall quality of human food by delivering safer animal feed. The company has grown signicantly and enjoys economies of scale since many of the molecules used in animal feed are also applicable in human food, nutraceuticals and pet food.

In a related development, Kemin recently opened a new manufacturing and laboratory facility in Lipetsk, Russia, located 400 km south of Moscow, to serve the fast-growing industry in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) such as Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Customers in Europe are served by the Kemin facility in Belgium.

Russia is one of the largest animal feed markets in Europe producing more than 30 million tons of feed. Also, Eastern Europe is seeing strong growth in the feed and animal protein market.

Kemin operates facilities in major animal protein production areas around the world, including the US, Brazil, South Africa, Belgium, Italy and Russia.

In Asia, it operates in India, China and Singapore. It is planning to expand laboratory facilities in China for R&D and customer service in the fourth quarter of 2017.

“The need for protein nutrition among people in Asia will grow in line with population growth, even as demand in Western Europe and the United States falls,” Dr Nelson added.

Kemin invests every year in expanding and renovating its global facilities as needed to accommodate customer demand.

“Wherever feed is being made, we will have a facility close by,” said Dr Nelson.