As climate change and food security dominate political thinking, Nick Major of BOCM PAULS tells Andrew Watts how the two issues will influence UK farming.
To many, BOCM PAULS is just an animal feeds company, but while that has been and remains its core business, it has expanded its services to keep pace with changes in farming. Today’s farm businesses are often diversified with many enterprises that once would have been viewed in isolation. Meeting their needs in a holistic manner is central to the direction of the company and its future success.
It might not seem obvious, but anaerobic digesters are seen as a natural compliment to animal nutrition, with both requiring high-energy feed stocks and enzymes to improve performance. BOCM PAULS considers itself perfectly placed to serve this growing industry.
“Our core competence is animal nutrition and we endeavour to deliver that in whatever form customers want to buy it and at competitive prices,” says Nick Major, sales and marketing director. Having enjoyed 25 years with the firm, he has seen the company move through many stages.
“The past 10 years have seen several developments within the business including the development of Feedex, which sells premixes to the pig home mix sector and our blends and co products businesses. Some of these moves have been challenging for the company as we developed the business from one that only sold compound feeds. But we see our role as delivering nutrition in a manner the customer wants and at a price that is acceptable, so it was an obvious progression.”
Manufacturing more than 200,000 tonnes of blends, 500,000t of co-products and straights and 2m tonnes of compounds annually, the firm has shown remarkable adaptability in responding to industry trends and developments.
Faced with the dual challenge of ensuring food security and cutting carbon emissions, BOCM PAULS is about to embark on its latest evolution by moving to satisfy the feed needs of the diversified farm business – both animal feed and that of on-farm energy generation.
“Co-products, from the bio-ethanol and human foods sector, are an increasingly important part of future rations. It is, perhaps, only fitting that much of the co-product finds its way into livestock feeds. There are a lot of biscuit and bakery-type products that also have a role as part of livestock feeding,” Mr Major explains.
“We see the livestock industry and BOCM PAULS as a very efficient and cost-effective recycler of some of these raw materials while helping our customers to cut the carbon emissions of their businesses. That has meant adapting the way the company worked previously in regions and the team on the ground has been heavily involved.
“Most dairy farmers with 150 cows or more will have a feeder wagon and be using some form of PMR or TMR feeding system and it’s important for us to balance that ration. If he’s using co-products, we can supply what he needs. It’s a total feed business concept.”
Meeting climate change targets is a significant challenge and most of the benefits rest with the retailer and consumer while most of the challenge lies with the producer. “As part of the supply chain we also face targets in the production and distribution of rations, but we’re confident that as we meet our own targets we can meet those of farmers too,” says Mr Major. “It will take a great deal of innovation throughout the chain if we’re to avoid some of the hefty costs associated with the Climate Change Levy. We’ll all have to look at the formulation process and the products we use in that formulation if we’re to meet some of these targets.”
One example of where the company is innovating is the development of Lintec, an extruded meal, produced from specific linseed varieties bred for their alpha-linolenic acid or Omega3 content, which improves animal health, fertility and performance.
Another example is effective partnering with big players to deliver benefits on a larger scale. Mr Major cites the benefits of close relationships in arrangements such as it has with Blade Farming: “We look at what Richard Phelps is attempting to deliver as being very positive for the industry as well as supporting the future of the sector, because it meets customer needs of quality and consistency of product while having the audit trail.”
It’s hard not to be won over by Mr Major’s verve for agriculture and the opportunities he sees as ripe for the taking. If BOCM PAULS can deliver this vision, farming has a lot to look forward too.