Animal feed product R&D are two separate operations

Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

Animal feed product R&D are two separate operations

(monkeybusinessimages | Bigstockphoto)

When product development is separated from product research, that's when the innovative ideas really start to flow.

In my previous blog, I wrote about some of my Spanish experiences, and this brought up another peeve of mine. Not that this peeve happens only in Spain, or everywhere in Spain — I just encountered this “fenómeno de naturaleza” or “disaster” there for the first time. Nowadays, I see it everywhere, from the U.S. to China and any place inbetween. It has nothing to do with countries, but rather with human mentalities and recalcitrant (isn’t my iMac thesaurus a treasure?) corporate management.

But let’s get back to our story. In my later years of stay in Spain, I happened to be contracted as a consultant by a very good nutrition company who was blessed in having their own research farm of very high standards. Lamentably, what they had in abundance in research resources — and I say this being green from envy — they lacked in common sense (please, do read my last week’s blog on this last comment); at least this was my initial, and disputably incorrect, diagnosis.

It was a pure waste of money in exchange for results that were easily predictable.

Every time this company considered making even the slightest change in their formulas, they had to run two, not one — two — trials in this state-of-the-art, large and expensive facility. They had tested lysine levels from 1.0 percent to 1.05 percent; soybean meal from supplier A versus supplier B (who both bought the same soybean meal from the same people who unloaded ships in Amsterdam); pure lactose and amino acids instead of whey; and the list goes on and on. It was a pure waste of money in exchange for results that were easily predictable, as any nutritionist can attest, by referring to the right textbooks and research papers publicly available.

The worst part is that despite all their copious research efforts, this company ended up using the exact same formulas year after year, ignoring the internal research findings — I was never told why. When I took over as a consultant and separated the process of product development from product research, first we managed to bring the formulas to the 21st century, and then we used those magnificent facilities to test some really innovative ideas — not mine; all belonged to the research manager who then felt free to unleash his true potential.

End result: Some of the best products that exist today in Spain!