Alltech Asks “What If”

What If AlltechKnowledge and planning provide a sense of relief, particularly in business. Business and Technology, one of the six major sessions during “What If,” the 30th Annual Alltech International Symposium will help attendees stay worry-free by asking, “What if there are faster ways to predict the future?” The session will offer businesses strategies to maximize efficiency by embracing technological innovations and marketplace opportunities. It will take place in downtown Lexington, Ky., USA from May 18-21.

Evoking curiosity with its theme, “What If,” the Symposium will focus on the areas of Crop Science, Life Sciences, Africa, Modern Farming, The Algae Opportunity, and Business and Technology – all primary topics of focus which will feature notable, expert speakers from around the world.

During the Business and Technology session, Dr. Damien McLoughlin, professor at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, will address the question of, “What happens next?” and share his knowledge on strategic succession planning to ensure the life of a business.

“The greatest investment in business is always in management,” McLoughlin said. “The opportunities in global agribusiness are so great today, that no firm, family-owned or otherwise can ignore the challenge of finding, developing and empowering the next generation of managers and leaders. At the Alltech International Symposium, we will discuss this issue and identify practical points that you can use to improve your business.”

Dr. Aoife Lyons, licensed clinical psychologist and director of Alltech’s Career Development Program, will also speak, explaining the benefits of psychometric testing in hiring excellent talent, debunking fears and myths about psychometric testing, and outlining the economic benefit to companies. Eighty-five percent of companies in the Forbes 500 use psychometric testing as part of the hiring process. Making sure people have the right skills but equally, matching a potential employee’s personality with the corporate culture of their team is imperative.

The Business and Technology session will address other questions as well, including:
– What if there were simpler, alternative ways to achieve the same objectives in business?
– What if micro-loans were available for new businesses?
– Where do you look for funds?
– What if it is not about big data, but about the right data?
– What if your business is not completely connected?

Registration for Alltech’s 30th Annual International Symposium is open now and available for an early discount price of $599 until April 10. Standard registration after April 10 will be $850. Two paid registrations from a single company or organization will receive a third registration free of charge. Delegates who are members of ARPAS and AAVSB can also earn CEUs.

Alltech Feed Survey Reports Slight Increase

logo-alltechResults from the 2014 Global Feed Tonnage Survey released by Alltech revealed a one percent increase in feed production, with global feed tonnage reporting in at 963 million metric tons, up from 954 million metric tons last year. Alltech assessed the compound feed production of 130 countries in Dec. 2013 through information obtained in partnership with local feed associations and Alltech’s sales team, who visit more than 28,000 feed mills annually.

Among the 130 countries assessed in Alltech’s survey, China was once again the number one country producing feed at 189 million metric tons and an estimated 9,500 feed mills. The United States and Brazil ranked second and third respectively, with the U.S. producing 169 million metric tons from 5,236 feed mills and Brazil generating 67 million metric tons from 1,237 feed mills. There was an observed decline in the number of feed mills in China, likely driven by government policy, which favors a smaller number of larger feedmills to facilitate traceability and improvements in quality, and the continued demand by urban consumers for further processed proteins from larger farms.

In terms of percent growth in comparison to the Dec. 2012 figures, Africa was reaffirmed as the fastest growing region. Countries such as South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mauritius and Namibia all experienced production increases, boosting Africa’s combined tonnage seven percent to just short of 31 million metric tons in 2013. Asia, of the six regions surveyed, is once again the leading overall region in terms of production of animal feed, with 348 million metric tons or more than one-third of global feed, but did not grow in 2013. The Middle East is estimated to have the largest feed mills by average tons per year. Globally, feedmills produced an average of 34,000 metric tons.

When analyzed by species:

  • Poultry: 46 percent share of global production at 444 million tons.
  • Pig feed: increased by 11 percent, moving to 243 million metric tons globally.
  • The ruminant feed market: decreased in tonnage demand between late 2012 and December 2013.
  • Equine feed: tonnage increased 14 percent to 12.4 million metric tons.
  • Aquaculture: 17 percent increase in 2013 to 34.4 million metric tons.
  • Pet food: tonnage increased just slightly from 20.5 to 20.7 million tons.

The Survey found that the total value of the feed industry exceeds $500 billion, higher than the previous estimate of $350 billion. This has been fueled by high feed prices but also the more accurate information collected by this survey. With an expected fall in feed prices in 2014, this value of the feed industry will likely not be as high in 2014.

Never a Shortage of Research at Alltech

nafb-13-7-editedThere is never a shortage of topics to discuss when it comes to Alltech. The company was present for last week’s NAFB Convention Trade Talk and I chatted with Vice President of Alltech, Aidan Connolly and Ann Kopecky, Alltech’s North American Field PR Manager.

Aidan shared how Alltech’s Crop Science program is exploring natural alternatives to fungicides and focusing on microbes in soil to increase digestibility. Alltech has also conducted research in protein and carbohydrate content in crops. This improves yields and the nutrient value, but also passes down the food chain to those animals who consume them.

Alltech’s Algae production facility was also covered. They have developed a source of algae with a wide range of benefits for many species. It can increase immunity, decrease mortality and increase litter size in herds. Herds who feed this type of algae can also brand their products as value-added DHA Omega-3 enriched for consumers.

nafb-13-10-editedListen to my complete interview with Aidan and learn more about their Crop Science and Algae programs here: Interview with Aidan Connolly

Ann talked about one of Alltech’s newest ventures. The In Vitro Fermentation Model (IFM) is on course to be launched this winter. IFM is designed to be a support tool for nutritionists as it will evaluate and troubleshoot dairy rations and reduce feed costs. The model will identify barriers to diet fermentation, formulate rations based on nutrient availability and reduce the loss of energy.

Listen to my complete interview with Ann and see how you can utilize IFM here: Interview with Ann Koepecky

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

AMS Student Awards

ams13-lpc-studentsAll of the students attending Ag Media Summit are outstanding, but several of them received special recognition at the awards luncheon on Monday.

The Livestock Publications Council recognized four students as Forest Bassford award finalists, with Ann Kopecky on the left representing sponsor Alltech. Next to Ann from the left are finalists Kari Weis (University of Missouri), Reba Underwood (West Texas A&M), Claire Carlson and Logan Britton (both from Kansas State). The winner of the award honoring the founder of LPC was Kari.

ams13-aaea-awardsKari was also one of four students who received scholarships from AAEA. Next to Kari here are Ellen Reeder (University of Illinois) and Courtney Leeper, also from MU. Next to Courtney is JoAnn Alumbaugh, Pork Network and AAEA committee chair, who made the presentations. Not pictured is Maggie Jo Pruitt, University of Arkansas, who is completing a summer internship abroad.

I talked to Kari about her experience at Ag Media Summit, which she says is like “one big family.”

Listen to my interview with Kari here: Interview with student award winner Kari Weis

2013 Ag Media Summit Photo Album

Getting More Nutrients From A Pig’s Diet

I caught up with Aidan Connolly, vice president of corporate accounts with Alltech, recently while he was in Des Moines, Iowa for the 25th Anniversary of the World Pork Expo. I peppered him with questions from feed prices to the importance of nutrients in the diet to some of the diseases the pork industry is addressing and got the low down on some key issues affecting hog producers across the U.S. and the globe.

wpx13-alltech-connollyThe interview was kicked off with concerns about this year’s harvest – too much rain in the Midwest has caused many farmers to be quite late in planting – and how this might affect feed prices. Connolly explained that many things affect feed prices, but mainly it comes down to supply and demand. He believes the demand side will stay very strong and foresees continued growth in China. However, Connolly said from his view, he remains optimistic about the harvest.

He stressed the important of getting the nutrients out of the diet. He believes the industry needs to be very concerned about intestinal health, gut health – the need to keep the pig healthy. “We need to be looking at any technologies that can improve feed efficiency.”

Alltech has products to help just this, including various enzymes and Actigen™. They are also working with antioxidants – all things Connolly said help the pig absorb nutrients better. “Basically I would say to any hog producer today, spend the money to improve feed conversion. It’s money well spent.”

Listen to my interview with Aidan Connolly here: Getting More Nutrients From A Pig's Diet

Visit the 2013 World Pork Expo photo album.

Don’t get it right

alltech-symposium-13-15Awestruck might be a good description for me following the opening evening activities at my first outing as the new ZimmComm intern. After arriving in Lexington, Kentucky for the Alltech International Symposium, I got dressed up and headed to the dinner that featured salmon, table company from Africa, and fabulous singers. It was a far cry from dinner at the dorm cafeteria. However, I only felt out of place for a few minutes. The gathering of nearly 2,500 seemed to shrink very quickly when I realized I had connections with some of the attendees. I ran into a few people from Kansas and a few people with connections to my interest area, the dairy industry. It was a lot of fun to meet people who I could relate to and who write articles and blogs that I read.

In addition to making some great connections, I had the opportunity to really jump in and get my hands dirty as far as writing and reporting goes. I had a lot of chances to conduct interviews, take pictures and tweet about the sessions at the symposium. Probably my favorite part of reporting was getting to listen to the sessions on the future of nutrition, marketing and scientific development that will shape agriculture in 2020. If you missed our reports on the symposium, you can find our coverage of the event here.

The people were great to meet, the science was intriguing, but the biggest take away for me was a message that Dr. Pearse Lyons delivered several times throughout the symposium, “Don’t get it right. Get it started.” Fitting I think that this was a point of emphasis at my first reporting assignment. So maybe I’m not doing it right, but at least I’ve started.

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Marketing Thoughts From AdFarm

ZimmCast 398The subject of marketing is always a key topic area for the Alltech International Symposium. Doesn’t it make sense to help your customers become more successful marketers? Sure it does.

Alltech Marketing ForumDuring this year’s Symposium Les Kahl, Managing Partner US/Creative Director, AdFarm, participated in The Marketing Forum track. His session featured a number of marketing experts and Les says he was pleased to see Alltech go outside agriculture to find some of them to be a part of the program. He says there are many case studies out there that folks in agricultural marketing can learn from. Les focused his remarks on design and how it affects your communications efforts. By design, he means not only graphic design but also product design and communication design (print ads to video, web design and more). You can get more marketing perspective from Les in this week’s program.

Listen to this week’s ZimmCast here: Marketing Thoughts From AdFarm

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsors, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong and Monsanto, Roundup Ready Plus, for their support.

Crisis Management Training at Alltech Symposium

Alltech Crisis Management WorkshopIs your farm or company ready to handle a crisis? Unfortunately, in today’s world the possibility of having to deal with one has become very high. During the 2013 Alltech International Symposium attendees could get some hands on training during a session on Crisis Management.

I worked with one of the session presenters, David Wescott, VP, APCO Worldwide. He created a crisis simulation in which a fictional company was used and a volunteer found to be the CEO of the company. David outlined a situation in which the fictional company was purported to have caused nursing home deaths from a company food product and information spread virally via Twitter. During a break I approached our fictional CEO as a news reporter with a video camera putting him on the spot to answer, “What do have to say to the public about your company product causing these deaths.” Of course, nothing had been proven and the Twitter messages were all false or completely speculative. It was fun, at least for me. Then after the break the video was played to critique how the fake CEO handled my questioning. I’d post the video but I don’t think we need to have a fake online crisis. We have enough of those as it is.

I visited with David after the first of the two sessions held during Symposium. You will hear that there is a need to have a crisis management plan so that you and your company know what to do if something should happen.

Listen to my interview with David here: Interview with David Wescott

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Alltech Young Scientists Award

alltech-symposium-13-12Alltech awarded its annual Young Scientist Awards at the closing ceremony of the Alltech International Symposium on May 22.

The first award was for undergraduate research. Amanda Pesqueira was the recipient of this honor. Pesqueria attended the University of Maringa in Brazil before transferring to the University of Kentucky for her final year of undergraduate studies in animal science. Her research presentation, titled “Contractile Response of the Different Ergot Alkaloids in Bovine Cranial Branch of the Lateral Saphenous Vein In Vitro,” examines the compounds involved with fescue toxicosis syndrome in cows through the use of an advanced testing system. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in animal science.

Nimesha Fernando received the award for graduate research. She is a a graduate student at the University of Melbourne and looked at how high levels of CO2 in the environment affect the growth of grain through her research presentation titled “Free Air CO2 Enrichment Altered Wheat Grain Protein Quality and Rheological Characteristics: A Comparative Proteomic Analysis.” Using proteomic analysis, she showed that exposure to high levels of CO2 results in grains with lower levels of protein, and then applied her research findings to the use of wheat in food production.

Six other students had the opportunity to travel to Lexington as finalists for the awards. They were selected from an initial field of more than 8,000 students.

Find out more information about registering for the next Alltech Young Scientist Competition here.

Listen to the full presentation ceremony here: Young Scientists Awards

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Grasping the New Reality

alltech-symposium-13-13Dr. Patrick Wall’s presentation during the closing ceremony of the Alltech International Symposium was about managing crisis situations in the food industry. He made reference to many of the recent scandals within the food industry and described issues companies should be aware of as well as how they should manage them. The message Wall left with the attendees was a great reminder for everyone involved in agriculture. “When you go home and people ask you what business you’re in, tell them you’re in the human health business,” Wall said.

You can listen to Wall’s full speech here: Grasping the New Reality

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

A Glimpse of Algae Uses

alltech-symposium-13-14According to Rebecca Timmons, Director or Applications Research and Quality Assurance at Alltech, many uses and opportunities are available with algae. She shared her vision for algae in the future at the closing ceremony of the Alltech International Symposium. Timmons said that algae produces three-quarters of the oxygen in the world. She believes there is huge room for development with algae and thinks that by 2020 it could be used to provide DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) to humans through animals.

Listen to Timmons full speech here: The Future of Algae

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Sustainability focus at Alltech Beef Discussion Dinner

alltech-symposium-13-10Tuesday night at the Alltech International Symposium was discussion dinner night. While Chuck was sitting in on the Marketing discussion, I got to participate in the Beef 2020 dinner and discussion. Participants in the conversation were from a wide range of backgrounds and geographies including people from the United States, South America and Europe. The topic of discussion for the night was sustainability. Conversation included issues such as remaining economically sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable. The many varied opinions and experiences allowed for a lively dinner. The discussion was facilitated by James Campbell from the Irish Farmers Journal and Bruno Mazzer, beef sales and solutions manager with Alltech.

I interviewed Mazzer following the dinner and you can listen to his comments here: Beef Sustainability

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Chaney’s Dairy Barn

alltech-symposium-13-11The World Market at the Alltech International Symposium played host to several companies. Walking through the market an attendee had the opportunity to taste test meat, bread or cheese, but one of the most popular attractions was the Chaney Dairy Barn ice cream.

The Chaney family dairy is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The dairy farm has been in the family since 1888 and currently milks about 50 Jersey cows. In 2003, they opened the Chaney Dairy Barn selling ice cream. This product goes hand-in-hand with their popular agritourism business. The farm played host to approximately 8,000 kids last year. One of their more popular events is Ice Cream and a Moovie that was recently chosen as a top 20 event by the Southern Tourism Society.

I caught up with Carl Chaney, co-owner of the Chaney Dairy Barn, scooping ice cream at the world market. It was really interesting to talk with him about their operation and how they market their products. When asked how he markets his product, Chaney said, “Anyway I can.”

You can learn more about the Chaney family and the Chaney Dairy Barn at their website.

Listen to the whole interview here: Chaney Dairy Barn

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Alltech Lyons Glimpse the Future

Drs. Mark & Pearse LyonsA pair of Dr. Lyons bid us goodbye from the 2013 Alltech International Symposium. Here are son/father, Dr. Mark Lyons and Dr. Pearse Lyons.

Dr. Mark Lyons, vice president of corporate affairs at Alltech, talked to us about the importance of food safety as he shared the company’s vision for helping expand agricultural production in China. According to Lyons, food security is seen as “the potential Achilles’ heel of China” and is too big of an issue to ignore publicly.

China’s five-year plan focuses on making farms larger, more efficient and more traceable. For example, half of the world’s pigs live in China and from those 50 million sows, 20 pigs per sow are born alive per year. This equals an annual production of one billion pigs per year. However, due to preweaning mortality, only 600 million actually go to market. The 400 million lost is three times the size of U.S. pig production. In China, one more pig per sow per year would mean one million tons of feed saved.

“What is Alltech’s five-year plan? We want to be a foreign brand with a Chinese heart,” Lyons said. “We want to firmly establish market leadership, partner with the government and leading feed, production and food companies, and give our customers a competitive advantage.

Listen to Mark talk about his vision of 2020 here: Dr. Mark Lyons Vision

Founder and president of Alltech, Dr. Pearse Lyons in his wrap-up challenged the delegates to help the farmer of tomorrow and to use the resources provided to them at this year’s event.

“Are you going to fly or are you going to soar? Will you flourish?” Dr. Lyons asked. “You need to leave here today and say, ‘I may not rule the world, but I can have an impact on feeding the world’s growing population.’”

Listen to Pearse wrap-up the Symposium here: Dr. Pearse Lyons Wrap-up

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Alltech Symposium Tweetup

Alltech Symposium TweetupIt was tweetup time at the Alltech International Symposium last night at the Lexington Brewing location downtown. We had a big crowd show up to meet each other in person and enjoy some fun and fellowship.

Alltech played a lot of what I would call farmer agvocacy film clips, many of which I had never seen. Most were funny and it ended with a few of the past winners of the Alltech Farming Film Festival competition winners. There’s a new competition by the way so get your creative juices flowing and consider entering your own video.

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Discussing Different Topics at Alltech Dinners

Alltech Symposium Discussion DinnerAt the end of the second day’s program here at the 2013 Alltech International Symposium a series of discussion dinners are held on a variety of topics. I chose Crisis Management which ties in to a full session on the topic that I participated in earlier in the day. I’ll have more on that in a later post.

Our dinner on Crisis Management used the “Horsegate” problem as the example to stimulate discussion. We had quite a bit of disagreement in the room which did make it interesting.

Each table was given a few questions to talk about and then share with the rest of the room under the direction of a moderator. Then we had open discussion in which anyone could speak up. One of our attendees (Trent Loos) made a comment that Horsegate was not a crisis but an opportunity as evidenced by the fact that both horse meat sales/consumption and beef increased significantly since this alleged crisis started. So if I understood him correctly, the industry shouldn’t consider this a crisis. The perpetrators of the crime that was committed are no longer in business and no one died or even got sick. On the other side of that idea there were a number of people who talked about damage to the reputation of the industry and that it is a serious matter or crisis situation. This is just one of several ideas debated in the session. It is what makes this such a great idea!

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Re-imagining Nutrition

alltech-symposium-13-9The emerging change in the culture of nutrition was one of the topics of discussion in the afternoon session of the Alltech International Symposium. The session featured areas of research that are revolutionizing the world of nutrition. Among the interesting topics discussed were the use of enzymes as a feed additive for beef, neonatal nutritive programming in chickens and feeding of trace minerals to swine. Dr. Jules Taylor-Pickard told attendees that they should expect the entire blueprint of nutrition to shift by 2020.

Dr. Karl Dawson, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Alltech, was the host of the session. I caught up with him after the session and asked him what producers should consider when evaluating their nutrition strategies. When discussing what producers should do, he said, “They need to get ready to understand those changes, and nutritionist are going to be challenged to take those into account and produce better animals.”

Listen to the whole interview with Dr. Karl Dawson here: Nutrition Changing

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

Food Branding Important in Reaching Consumers

alltech-symposium-13-8One of the Tuesday morning sessions at the Alltech International Symposium included a Food Branding Panel. The panel was made up of individuals with experience in the restaurant business, retail, local foods, social media, and science. According to Dr. Mark Lyons, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Alltech, the panel was a really good opportunity to talk about miscommunications and issues with sharing information about a company’s product with consumers.

While discussing the problems surrounding food branding by companies, Lyons said, “We are not really engaged. We are scared. We’re concerned. We jump to a lot of conclusions that actually are incorrect.”

The panel talked a lot about the miscommunications and mistakes that are made when communicating between brands and consumers. David Wescott, Vice President of APCO Worldwide and the social media panelist, left the audience with a message for 2020. He said companies must break out of their communities and embrace their customers in order to survive.

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Mark Lyons here: Dr. Mark Lyons's Remarks

2013 Alltech International Symposium Photo Album

An Alltech Marketing Forum

ZimmCast 396We’re all about marketing here on AgWired. That’s why “The Marketing Forum, Branding at its Best” session at the 2013 Alltech International Symposium caught my eye. This session dealt with subjects like transparency, different cultures and protecting the brand.

Dairy CarrieOne of the presenters was Carrie Chestnut Mess, known to the world on Twitter as @DairyCarrie. Carrie is also a committee member for this year’s Agvocacy 2.0 Conference. I visited with her during the Symposium to learn what she learned and what she tried to communicate to the people attending her session.

One of the things she learned from her fellow panel members was the value and importance to American companies of the Latino market, something she had not really though of. Another was the idea that in large part most people involved in agribusiness are not good marketers, hence a lot of the image problems we’re having today. I think you’ll enjoy hearing her ideas and observations.

Listen to my conversation with Carrie in this week’s program here: Changes in Marketing

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsors, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong and Monsanto, Roundup Ready Plus, for their support.