Based in Carpi near Bologna, northern Italy, the Filozoo plant is producing premixes, complimentary feed and medicine mixtures for Italian animal feed production. Now part of the French Invivo NSA group, the firm is also representative for several other additive producers.
The €43 million turnover of Filozoo is divided between Italian feed manufacturers (70%) and Italian home mixers (30%). Its portfolio counts more than 300 products in premixes, complimentary feed for home mixing farmers (inclusion rate between 1-5% in their mixes), animal health products and additives. “We have six dedicated lines, three on premixes and complimentary feeds, and three on our dedicated medical product plant,” says Federico Longhini, sales manager industry, who joined the firm four years ago. To cover its two markets, Filozoo employs 46 people (production, administration, quality and technical services), and has a network of 45 agents and distributors all over the country.
To be near the customers
Although the powder form is still dominant, liquids are booming: “Particularly on the animal health side as feed manufactures try to avoid the entrance of medical molecules into their plant and try to promote as much as possible health treatment through drinking water. Some even forbid any medical product on their plant to be sure there is no cross contamination with other feeds,” explains Katia Bigliardi, pharmacist and in charge of production and control of medicated
mixes. “We also manufacture medicine premixes and medicated feed for firms such as Alpharma, Merial and Intervet Schering-Plough” she said. In total, the plant produces between 20 and 30 different mixes (10% of the turn over).
All the constraints for pharmaceutical production are there, from special clothing for visitors to depressurised weighing room, from gravity transportation to sampling. Production is clustered to avoid too many change-overs and to reduce cleaning, which is compulsory between the processing of two different products. The plant is equipped with a recycling system for the cleaning water through distillation: the solid part, concentrated after this distillation, is considered a “special waste” and is disposed of by a specialised company.
Advantage of being part of a group
Based in Carpi, 40 minutes by car from Bologna, from its foundation as a private company forty years ago, Filozoo has been part of Adisseo. Four years ago it was bought by the French cooperative group Invivo NSA. Nevertheless, its remained a private firm. It also kept its contracts of distributor for additives producer Adisseo, and its own distributor for products for ruminants from Kemin, Lallemand, Balchem and because of the takeover, the new range of Neovia products from Invivo NSA (toxins binders, alternative coccidiostats).
“We keep our independence regarding strategy and market approach, but we take advantage of being part of a group regarding investments, scientific data, even brand marketing”, says Longhini. Investments had been huge until the uptake into the Invivo group.
After the safety measures taken for the three pharmaceutical lines in 2009, the process safety of the premix plant had been improved with the fully automatic micro dosing system of 72 bins. This year €300,000 are being invested to improve the production safety and traceability of the complementary feed line and €30,000 will be spent on the lab (sampling room), environment and employees safety. “At the moment, we are also looking into the return on investment of photovoltaic panels on our roofs to produce energy but no decision had been taken yet,” Longhini said.
Quality and services provider
Filozoo aims at developing services for their customers as an alternative to a price strategy. Its range goes from analyses to farm management services. For example, its new FilEco service for pig farmers, which is a system that measures the length of the dorsal fat of a sow. This gives information about the sow’s conformation, its longevity at the farm and its milk producing qualities.
The firm sponsored an international scientific event on fibre digestibility in ruminants in Bologna (12thof May) in cooperation with Lallemand and plans to launch the Invivo NSA ruminant brand Physio in October. These two events give an idea of the development strategy of the firm. The region of Bologna, Emilie Romagna, used to be known as a strong pig producing zone but its historical production of heavy pigs (160/170 kg) is decreasing under the pressure of demand for lean meat and due to international competition with imported finished pigs and half carcasses. “We are still strong on the Italian pig market and intend to stay as strong, but we are taking on the opportunity of the dairy market to show our technical abilities and quality” said Longhini.
Quality is considered as soon as the raw materials enter the plant. Not only is the laboratory currently increasing its NIR capacity with a second machine, but it also has six HPLC, an atomic absorption and a microbiological room. “We employ four people at the lab” explain Giordana Munari, responsible of the quality system (certification under Iso, GMP and Ochas). The brand new sampling room can shelter samples of two years production. “Even if the law require less, we think it is very important to keep samples longer to be able to trace the production whenever it is needed”.
Eli Roux is a freelance writer