5th BioMarine International Business Convention
30–31 Oct. 2014 Cascais, Portugal  View Location

Interview Francisco Gomes – Executive Manager Aqua Business Unit – Novus International, USA
May 9

Interview Francisco Gomes – Executive Manager Aqua Business Unit – Novus International, USA

Novus and the group:

1- Could you please introduce yourself and give us an overview of what is Novus?

My name is Francisco Saraiva Gomes, 36 years of age, Portuguese, married, father of two girls and I lead the Aquaculture Business Unit at Novus International. I’ve graduated in Marine Biology in Lisbon, obtained my doctoral degree at Auburn University in U.S. and have worked in several positions related to Aquaculture and Marine biotechnology. I worked in Madagascar, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Malta, U.S. and consulted in several other countries in Northern and Central Europe, Africa, Latin America and others.
Novus is a 20 year young company specialized in health & nutrition micro ingredients and functional technologies. The company focuses in 4 main platforms Performance Nutrition, Therapeutic Nutrition, Feed Quality and Consumer Values. It currently operates in the poultry, swine, ruminant, aquaculture, pet and human markets. Our technologies span through, Antioxidants, Amino acids, Enzymes, Probiotics, Prebiotics,Mycotoxin binders, Pigments, Essential Oils, Organic Acids, Processing Aids and others.
Through a complete and balance portfolio and a team of industry experts, Novus is able to provide meaningful solutions for the animal production industry on a global scale.
At its core, Novus is a research and innovation oriented organization. Since we were founded we continue to invest in more and more meaningful research. We have more than 40 PhDs and our research facilities are located in the US, Spain, Vietnam, India and China. More than the research we conduct ourselves; Novus is extremely competent in managing research collaborations with our customers and with many universities and research centers around the world. Aqua is a good example: our R&D Center is located in Vietnam and we have more than 45 research collaborations globally active.
The fundamental spirit of Novus is well laid down in our mission, “To help feed the world affordable, wholesome food and achieve a higher quality of life.” We believe that we do have a preponderant role in helping how food is produced on a global scale. Our products and technologies touch tens of millions of MT of produced meat in all production markets. And their impact its felt by hundreds of millions of people around the world, because we do make food production more efficient, more sustainable, safer and of higher quality.

2- Why is the aqua market so important in the Novus Strategy?

Last year I had the privilege to address the plenary of the world aquaculture society in Natal, Brazil. There I expressed my view that the Aquaculture forecasts are an underestimate. Currently, Aqua is predicted to increase to 220 MMT of production by 2050, from our current 60 something level today.
These estimates fail to incorporate technology development. Actually they assume that the gains in efficiency in Aqua will continue to occur at a slower rate than in more sophisticated industries such as poultry. This is a mistake, because Aqua’s efficiency is increasing every day. So if we assume, conservatively that the rate of progress in Aqua will be the same as in Poultry, that takes us to a projection of 400 plus MMT by 2050 which would make Aqua the greatest animal protein production in the world.
Irrespectively of how much will Aqua grow, it is absolutely clear that the world will not feed itself without it. Actually, the world WOULD not feed itself without it Today. We tend to forget that were it not for the spectacular Aqua development in China, population growth and there health would have been compromised.
Moreover, it is inaccurate to assume that Aqua is comparable to poultry, Aquaculture is a new platform for human development. Its applications go way beyond meat production per se. Algae is a good example. Algae culture is in many ways a spinoff of highly tech aquaculture sectors. If Agriculture is the platform of land, Aquaculture is the platform of Water and it is essential for mankind to steer this new platform to fundamental sustainability, socially, environmentally and economically.
Aqua is important for Novus simply because we recognize how important it will be to feed the world.

3-Tell us more about your development strategy? Are you looking for acquisitions or partnerships?

Novus is a company that has grown extremely fast over the last decade. Our growth so far has been the result of several strategies. We continuously present high organic growth, and we also have made important partnerships. Acquisitions and JVs are other options we have on the table. We continuously evaluate opportunities to grow and we are not locked in or locked out of any possibility. So far, our growth in Aqua has been strictly organic.
The main criteria for us is providing solutions for our customers. Novus already has one of the most complete technology portfolios in the industry and through it we are providing meaningful value to our customers. Our portfolio still has lots of potential to grow our business and we are always looking out to see if there is meaningful value for our customers from technologies we do not currently own.

Aquaculture: You are considered as a key player in aquaculture and aquafeed

1- What are the 2 majors issues Aquaculture is facing in the horizon 2050?

Aqua will face many issues all of them critical from here on to 2050. I say that the sustainability of Aqua nutrition and Offshore farming are probably two of the biggest ones.
Sustainable nutrition will be a key issue affecting the development of the industry as a whole. To produce all this biomass we need to devise a sustainable sourcing for the raw materials that will be used for feed. The fish meal an oil dependency is perhaps the most significant issue, but surely not the only one. We must not be deaf to the criticism invoked about transferring millions of MT of soy produced on land onto the water. Soy is certainly a solution but will it be the only solution in the long term. Alternative proteins must be investigated and algae, single cell protein or insect protein are no longer the science fiction cases they were 10 years ago. Not only, that but it seems more and more likely that feeds will be the preponderant vehicle to prevent disease in Aqua. And without proper health management, there will be no industry. The importance of feed also relates to species and culture systems. We need to learn more about the nutritional requirements of our animals so that we can design feeds that are more efficient, so that they are better absorbed. Conversion of feed is something so paramount to the industry that it affects everything from Offshore licensing, to design of recirculated systems, to financial profitability, and so on and so forth. And we are just at the beginning.
Offshore farming is perhaps the other big topic. The potential of the oceans to provide us with food is enormous. I’m convinced that the sustainability of the human species depends on farming the oceans. But the oceans are an extremely sensitive ecological compartment of the planet. We now know that in spite of the gigantic size of the oceans, we have actually been able to change their chemical properties as whole! This is by all measures an incredible fact. SO now we know how destructive we can really get if we do not pay attention. Should that prevent us from moving forward. I believe it should not. The only real alternative we have is not whether we should farm the oceans but how do we farm the oceans. And there again, feeds and sustainable nutrition will have a major role. Salmon farming is the largest marine cage industry in the world. The two main environmental criticisms are one related with feed waste accumulating in the bottom of the oceans and the other related with biosecurity. Aqua feeds are definitely the solution for the first and a major supporting pillar for the second.

Sometimes the industry still falls on the trap of defending its sustainability by engaging in the argument “what we’re doing is the best alternative available so…?”  . Actually, the world does not want to hear that, we are expected to give not the best available but the sustainable one. And if none of what we are using is the sustainable strategy, then we must recognize that somewhere in the world there will be growing voices of dissatisfaction.

2- What role Novus intends to play in the aquaculture strategy horizon 2050?

Our goal is to be the referential provider of health & nutrition technologies in the industry. Size, revenue and profit all matter of course and we do have ambitious goals well before 2050. But I believe our legacy will be complete if in 2050, we could be recognized as one of the silent partners of a truly sustainable industry that in the space of a century went from virtually nothing, to the largest provider of animal protein in the world.

3- Could you elaborate on the role of Novus in aquaculture as a water platform?

Aquaculture is the water platform. One of the functions of that platform is the production of Animal Protein. For that production to be efficient animals need health & nutrition. Not only in their feeds but also in their production systems directly. Novus provides the functionality of health & Nutrition strategies used throughout the value chain. In summary, our role covers the entire value chain of aquaculture production from raw materials to harvest. We do not provide processing plant related technologies. And within that value chain, we focus on 5 key platforms: Feed Cost Reduction, Functional Feeds, Health through Nutrition, Optimized Raw Materials and Sustainable Practices. We do not provide the feed, the same way we do not provide raw materials or the culture systems. What we do is to optimize such raw materials or processes. This role allows us to be at the cornerstone of the development of the industry. Our technologies are hinging points from which the industry can support itself and adapt in one or the other direction. The five key areas we focus on are basically essential for the development of a sustainable industry.

4- Is this water platform an international strategy for the development of a sustainable aquaculture?
I surely would like to see it that way. Most of the human nutrition in the world is originated from plant and animal species domesticated 10,000 years ago. Very few species were actually added on to our “portfolio” after the agricultural revolution. Aqua is the big exception. But it is an exception occurring at a time where our technology and our knowledge of the processes allow us to develop it in a completely different way. Bottom line our technology gives us choices. We can in fact steer Aqua the best way possible. But for that we need Innovation, Research and Development. And for that we need resources. Human, Capital, Organizational, Managerial, Social, Environmental and many others. We do not know what Aqua 2050 will be but we have a pretty good idea that if it will be a sustainable one, it will come by knowledge creation and knowledge sharing.  So my question is what best way to capture resources, organize them and manage them for results, that to recognize a single, diversified yet coherent platform for human development. You see, most of our growth is still yet to come. And in order to tap on that richness, we need to have  more ambitious innovation. Science requires repetition, but are we not repeating enough already. Could we not have higher compartmentalization of R&D in Aqua and have better and more defined strategies and policies of research in Aqua. I keep getting surprised by how much overlap there is in R&D plans across the world. Not only amongst private companies but also amongst public institutions. I think the development of the Water Platform would allow us – all the members of the industry to organize ourselves better and to better leverage all of our resources better, and fundamentally to progress faster and more sustainably.

BioMarine

7- This year Novus is actively participating to the 2012 BioMarine summit in London. What are your expectations?
Simply put to learn about companies, technologies, executives priorities and concerns.

8- What do you expect or what do you see as a practical outcome for your aquaculture Think-tank?
I would like us to come out of that session with a structured document. One that could be published as a 3 to 5 year roadmap and could be considered as an agenda for a more in depth debate and discussion on how to drive marine Aquaculture towards sustainability.

8- What do you want to say to our BioMarine community and to the attendees of the October summit in London?
First of all, please come by our think tank. Aquaculture is an integrator and we surely benefit from everybody’s contribution, especially if outside the industry. Other than that, I’m really more interested in listening to what the attendees have to say themselves. One of the things I enjoyed about last year’s event was the opportunity to keep a tab on the latest technological and business developments. There is lots and lots of information available to us every day. The problem is not access to information but rather filtering, contextualizing it and relating it to your needs. BioMarine is a very good tool for that.

Learn more : http://www.novusint.com/aquaculture

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