Stick to what you are good at. This expression is well suited for the Danish animal nutrition company Hamlet Protein. All About Feed talked to Søren Bank, chief commercial officer, and asked what their special expertise is and will be in the future.
Hamlet Protein, based in Horsens, Denmark, is jointly owned by Altor and Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division. They acquired the business in September 2015 from Polaris Private Equity and the founder of the Danish company, Ole Kaae Hansen. Mr Bank joined the company as chief commercial officer in 2009 and says: “The founder has put Hamlet Protein on the map and made us well known in the field of young animal nutrition. But we were still a small company, mainly selling our products to Europe and also a bit to Asia, at a later stage. The acquisition by Polaris in 2007 and later by our current owners in 2015, created a flywheel to go more international and we entered the next stage with our company.”
Ever since Mr Hansen founded the company, the focus has always been on young animal nutrition, as he invented a highly digestible protein made from soy. As young animals often have difficulties with digestion, this newly invented protein was ideal to include in the diet for piglets for example. The technology used by Hamlet Protein is patented and the key criteria is a product that has a digestibility of over 90%. “Having such as strong focus and strict criteria is our strength and we have always put our focus on this topic and didn’t go for the direction to broaden the product portfolio with more and more products. We simply discovered that young animal nutrition is the DNA of our company, so why not explore that expertise even more and stick to that expertise”, explains Mr Bank. The focus of Hamlet Protein is mainly on piglets, being based in one of the most effective pig producing countries in the world. “We have the most experience in piglets and from trials we get confirmation that our soy-based proteins perform better than feed supplemented with other soy or animal-based proteins in terms of feed intake, weight gain and feed conversion ratio. And as we consider young animals the main value of the company and getting them the best feed as early as possible, the return on investment for the pig farmer is improved”, explains Mr Bank.
The company also focuses on other species. For the last 5 years, the company offers protein products for broiler production. Mr Bank says “The base technology for producing the protein source is comparable to how we make the product for piglets, but we co-process the product with yeast. An immature gut and immune system makes highly digestible feed a vital factor in securing the optimal growth of young broilers. Considering that chicks can already digest our protein as of day one, we can gain a lot in the first ten days. As the broiler industry is growing worldwide, we expect a lot from our broiler product range in the near future, especially as the trend to reduce AGPs is spreading”. The third pillar in the portfolio is calves (protein for calf milk replacers).
As the company is producing soy products, you can ask whether this is a sustainable source, as often soy is considered not-sustainable and not the way forward. Mr Bank says “This is not true in my opinion. Our products are made from soy meal, a by-product from the production of vegetable oil, and we use them to replace other proteins, such as not processed soy, animal plasma or fish meal. If you look at the yield of soy protein per hectare, compared to other vegetable proteins, it is much higher, hence more efficient. We also work with selected suppliers of soy and we are a member of RTRS (Roundtable of Sustainable Soy)”. The selected suppliers are key in the process, as Hamlet Protein has its own set of special requirements to make sure the products are made from the best quality soy. The extra efforts made by the Danish firm is reflected in the uniqueness of the products for piglets, chicks and calves. Mr Bank explains that there are many protein suppliers in the market, and this can sometimes be confusing for customers. “Young animal nutrition is a hot topic and there are many protein ingredients available that claim to have high digestibility rates. We try to convince our clients of the value of years of backup trials and data, and that they can gain a true added benefit by replacing their current protein ingredients in the feed matrix”. The company’s mission and vision is also driven by challenges in the global livestock market, such as antibiotic reduction. “We have the advantage that we come from a country that is one of the pioneering countries in the world when it comes to preventive antibiotic reduction. This is why we have gained a lot of knowledge over the last years, in how our proteins can be one of the options to use less antibiotics. We advise our international clients for example in how our products can fit into their total antibiotic reduction programme on the farm. Feed is not the only factor in this, but certainly an important one”, says Mr Bank.
Hamlet Protein is growing at a fast pace. “Between 2009 and 2015 we have grown with 15-20% in sales per year. Our current staff is 120 people and we have two production plants (one in Denmark and one in the United States). Especially the plant in the US that we inaugurated in 2012 created significant growth for our company, as we couldn’t service this continent competitively from our Danish production facility. From the US we can now also ship to Asia more easily”, explains Mr Bank. The company has recently opened an office in Qingdao, China to serve its large Chinese customer base better. Hamlet Protein is also actively looking at unconventional partnerships. “Animal nutrition is part of the total management of a farm. If your goal is antibiotic reduction or increasing efficiency or animal health, more elements are important to consider. This is why we have joined forces with 5 other companies under then name ‘Danish Farm Concept’. Companies in this concept are specialists in pig breeding, nutrition, housing, management and climate. Together we can help clients more efficiently and we offer projects to investors. The idea is to take the forward thinking ideas from Denmark to other countries around the world to be a part in taking farm efficiency, animal health and diet formulation to the next level. This is the next phase for Hamlet Protein: further globalising of the company”, concludes Mr Bank.