IS IT NUTRITION OR MARKETING?
In the coming months, we will share with you some interesting articles introducing formulation dimensions that would contribute to increase feed nutritional and functional performance. We will have some recognized experts presenting the benefits of optimizing the Feed Acid Binding capacity, Feed Dietary Electrolytes Balance and Net Energy and explain how they helping to increase feed digestibility and conversion.
But these dimensions are not always taken into consideration when nutritionist formulates their commercial feed as they often trigger an increase of cost. Most of our markets are indeed very sensitive to prices and it is critical for a feed miller to match market leaders prices if they want to compete on the bulk of the market. Adding more constraints to their feed would actually reduce their margin and most of companies are not ready to do that. As consequences of this generic strategy, most of formulators are operating with the minimum requirement, that is to say, gross protein, gross energy, Total Amino-acids, etc…Such approach would limit progress and feed performance. How can Nutritionists incorporate new dimensions into their formulation perimeter? I believe that everything start with market definition.
For the industry to improve and feed millers to innovate, it is important to create a second market segment. A segment where customers would buy feed based on their cost per kilo of meat produced and not kilo of feed purchased. In such segment, customers would accept to buy high priced feed provided that the intake, growth, mortality and conversion would be optimized. The development of such segment would then enable feed millers to incorporate into their formulation additional dimension as net protein, net energy, Acid binding capacity, Dietary Electrolytes Balance, etc…and create a new momentum in the industry.
Such approach will start by strengthening the marketing activities of our industry. If we compare the Animal Nutrition industry to other industries as human nutrition for example, the priority given to marketing and the budget spent on building product differentiation are limited. It is critical that we start educating our customers on the differences between gross and net protein and energy, between price per kilo of feed and price per kilo of meat produced.
There will always be, at least for the years to come, a generic market that will represent the bulk of the volume and obviously every feed miller still need to compete on this segment to gain sizeable share and sufficient economy of scale. But at the same time, every feed miller should pay attention in developing the premium market. Every company should have a premium range where they spend a significant marketing budget at explaining to their customers why their premium feed is more performing in term of cost per kilogram of meat produced. That would be the only way for our industry to innovate.
To do so, it is important to strengthen the relationship between the formulation department and the marketing department. The positioning of the feed should be defined jointly between the marketers who define the most promising claims for the selected market segment and the nutritionists would be assessed technical and economical feasibility. We must be careful not to promise benefits that we cannot support technically but we must build up differences with the competition that we are targeting. The marketing processes are similar to the ones used in other industries but then need to be adapted to the feed industry.
Enjoy the reading !!