Markus Dedl, CEO, Delacon
IAF spoke to Markus Dedl, CEO of phytogenic feed-additive company Delacon, at EuroTier in Hanover.
Since its beginning in 1988, Delacon has followed the vision of founder Helmut Dedl to pioneer a natural way to keep animals performing and healthy. With investment in research and development of plant-based feed additives, Delacon started to replace belief with fundamental knowledge. For this new category of feed additives, Delacon created its own market and coined the term "phytogenic feed additives."
Today Helmut"s vision is being continued by his son, Markus has been now CEO of Delacon since 2010.
What is Delacon"s ultimate goal and vision, for the industry? How have Delacon helped shape the industry into what it is today?
I can remember smelling the garlic and onion and pepper in our hallway at home – my father had been an industrial chemist working for a local company and he had a strong vision to reduce the use of antibiotics. It was a scientific product and it needed a scientific name – phytogenics.
Going in the direction of phytogenic feed additives hadn"t been done before. The sheer fact that we are dealing with natural ingredients has its charm and a good feeling. Also, it is extra motivating because it has a positive impact in the world. It is essential to continue to follow the vision to pioneer a natural way to keep animals healthy and performing because it has carried us to where we are today. The vision has become a reality, but we are still not done working to replace antibiotic growth promoters in animal nutrition in the whole world.
What is your personal approach with getting young people interested and involved in the food industry? Do Delacon offer opportunities for young people to get involved and learn more about additives?
Consumers have the power to change every aspect of the animal industry. Their concerns, their acceptance of production methods, should be critical in how our customers and how we ourselves organise our businesses.
Millenials outnumber Generation X and are far more influential than the baby boom generation. Millennials, born between the early 80s and mid 90s, are the most highly educated and culturally diverse group of all generations, closely connected to their social and environmental surroundings they are expected to make up approximately half the workforce by 2020.
They are the consumers of today and will be the big spenders of tomorrow. It is this group of people, highly involved with what they eat and how it is produced, we need and want to communicate with.
We think there is a tremendous opportunity to connect with millennials with a story about animal wellness, good management practices and natural plant-based feed ingredients.
Do these connections with your consumers also reflect Delacon"s own personal philosophy of transparency and honesty?
It"s essential to know what makes the world go around on a consumer"s level. Yes, we develop and manufacture additives, our customers make feed and their customers produce animal protein.
That said, there is a great potential to interact with consumers and educate them about the way we cater to their protein needs. We have to be honest, agriculture has a dilemma to some extent when it comes to consumer trust and communication. We want to be transparent, in order to do that we have to communicate and above all, have an honest story to tell.
Delacon have grown incredibly quickly in the past few decades. Has this been challenging for the company, in any way?
Growth is, of course, a double-edged sword. In the last 10 to 15 years, we have had annual growth of 20 percent on average. We know 20 percent is a figure where we can grow comfortably without compromising our integrity. When you grow much faster than that, we think it gets difficult to maintain the culture and level of service for our customers.
What do you see as a possible challenge that the industry may face over the next five years and how will your company play a part in prevention or solving it?
One of the major challenges will be that we shape animal nutrition sustainably in the future. We are absolutely convinced that phytogenic feed additives represent a key solution for this challenge, due to their holistic and broad-spectrum efficacy. It is our responsibility, in the speciality feed additives sector, to provide sustainable solutions. We have a lot of animals to feed with our phytogenic ingredients, and we want to help producers do this in a sustainable way.
Would you say that networking at events such as these is more or less as important as the science and engineering that goes behind the technology within the additives and feed industry? Would you say they facilitate each other?
Of course, both is necessary, and I would agree that they facilitate each other. Science was, and will always be, the basis for our business activities, but you never can replace the personal contact with people, especially when it comes to explaining our products in detail.