INTERVIEW: Why Huvepharma Believes its Phytase Product is the Fastest

Source: Feedinfo News Service
(dated 09/02/2017)

The company is especially pleased with the performance of its OptiPhos® phytase product, which is benefitting from double-digit growth rates every year. In addition to the release of phosphorus, the product is also known to improve growth and FCR. At EuroTier 2016, Huvepharma promoted OptiPhos® as being "the fastest phytase" in the industry. Feedinfo News Service asked Karel Bierman, Global Director Enzymes at Huvepharma, to explain why "the fastest phytase" is more than just a catchy slogan, and what his views are on innovation in the phytase market at the moment.

[Feedinfo News Service] Mr. Bierman, enzymes have become the leading product group in Huvepharma’s product offering and OptiPhos® represents over half of the Huvepharma’s enzyme business unit revenue. What are your expectations moving forward?

[Karel Bierman] Enzymes have become the most important product group within Huvepharma, and they will definitely maintain in that position. Looking to the future global demand for animal protein, combined with the scarce resources to produce this amount of protein, it will become even more important to utilize resources to their maximum potential; ergo more use of enzymes that improve the digestibility of feed stuffs. OptiPhos®, as a phytase, was at its introduction mostly used to improve phosphorus digestion. In the meantime one can see the use of OptiPhos® has moved much more in the direction of super-dosing, to improve growth and feed-conversion. This super-dosing effect of OptiPhos® has been recognized already in 2008, and is even patented, so actually OptiPhos® is the only phytase that really may carry this claim.

[Feedinfo News Service] Since the EU approval of OptiPhos® in February 2012, the use of the product has grown fast, resulting in market shares of already over 50% in some countries. Could you let us know how the popularity of OptiPhos® has risen in the last 2 years?

[Karel Bierman] Since 2014 several new competitive phytases have entered the market.  Nevertheless OptiPhos® has continued growing with a fast pace at double digit growth rates every year, leading now to the situation that OptiPhos® is the most used phytase for instance in the USA (Agristats 2016). The drive towards super-dosing and the results that our customers have gained by super-dosing OptiPhos® (3-5 points of FCR improvement and 50-100 grams of extra growth in broilers, and 3% extra growth and 2% better FCR in swine) have boosted the use of our product. We also see large non-US integrators and multinationals choosing OptiPhos®, as it is the phytase specially developed for better results. Our production strain has been chosen from a big library of phytase producing organisms. The final candidate was chosen based on 3 key indicators:  (1) producing a phytase with the fastest action of all, (2) producing a phytase which works at its highest capacity at low and broad pH, and (3) being pepsin resistant - key factors that are all very important and are all reflecting the situation inside the animal’s digestive tract.

[Feedinfo News Service] According to Huvepharma, independent trials show that OptiPhos® is extremely effective in giving high growth and at a low dose. Can you expand on these trial findings?

[Karel Bierman] In the discussion around super-dosing and its effects we have performed several large scale trials together with our customers, testing different doses of OptiPhos® on phosphorus sufficient diets, which can be diets with a reduced amount of available phosphorus compensated with a standard dose of phytase or diets without phytase but with inorganic phosphorus fulfilling the requirements. In these trials we see when we apply a double dose of OptiPhos® the improvements in growth and feed conversion appearing. If you scale up to 4 times standard dosing (quarto dosing) you see the results improve further. Furthermore the EU registration of OptiPhos® achieved for the low dose of 125 OTU/kg of feed for broilers, layers, fattening pigs and sows shows that OptiPhos® is already effective at a very low dose. This registration is based on trials done at independent institutes, and on proven statistically significant effects of OptiPhos® at this low dose.

[Feedinfo News Service] How are the matrix values of the different phytases used in the market calculated? What enables you to say that OptiPhos® is "the fastest phytase"?

[Karel Bierman] Lab trials clearly demonstrate that OptiPhos® is the fastest of all phytases presently on the market. The speed of a phytase can simply be determined by measuring how much phosphorus is released by a known amount of phytase in a fixed amount of time at an over-amount of substrate, so one is sure that the phytase is challenged to work at its maximum capacity. This is expressed as the so called Vmax, and we have performed this test at a specialized lab for the most known phytases in the market. This test showed clearly that OptiPhos® at the most relevant pH level of pH=3 releases 30% more phosphorus than the next competitor. Due to this very fast action of OptiPhos® combined with the low pH at which this fast action is established, it is certain that the phytic acid is destroyed early in the digestive tract of the animal so the Anti Nutritional Factor (ANF) effect of phytic acid is also neutralized in a very early stage. This destruction of this ANF effect is the key behind the better growth and feed conversion results when OptiPhos® is used at super-dosing.

For OptiPhos® we base our matrix-values on animal trials and on pure mono-calcium phosphate replacement. In these trials we look at performance data (growth and feed conversion) and bone ash percentage, as the latter is the most sensitive parameter to judge the efficacy of a phytase. Next to this we perform direct digestibility trials, based on ileal sampling, which out-rules any diffusion by urine excreted phosphorus. Based on all of these trials we come to a very balanced nutritional matrix value for OptiPhos®, as we use trials done in different countries with feed formulas based on a broad spectrum of used feedstuffs, with different breeds of broilers and swine. This leads to a very universal applicable matrix value, not overestimating the capacity of the phytase.

[Feedinfo News Service] Why is it necessary for Huvepharma today to promote the new slogan "the fastest phytase" given that OptiPhos® is an already established product?  

[Karel Bierman] As several phytases were launched into the market after the introduction of OptiPhos®, which at their launch all promoted that they were more efficient than previous versions, it is up to us to demonstrate the superiority of OptiPhos® also over these later-introduced phytases. The real situation is that OptiPhos® when it was launched, was already far ahead of all other phytases present in the market at the time. And now with their recent launches, the competition has tried to reach the same levels as OptiPhos®. We have carried out many comparative trials but we don’t see consistency in the claimed technical results of our competitors. They claim to be more efficient than their earlier versions, which might be true. It is generally recognized that speed is an important factor in the efficacy of phytases. What was made clear in a comparative study we performed in an external lab, using similar test circumstances for all phytases, OptiPhos® was the fastest phytase. Speed is according to us, the most important feature that determines the efficacy of a phytase, so that needs to be highlighted, together with the fact that there is no phytase faster than OptiPhos®

[Feedinfo News Service] According to you, is the concept "super-dosing" more of a catchword when it comes to phytase inclusion in animal diets?

Karel Bierman] The latest developments in dosing higher amounts of phytase than needed for covering the phosphorus requirements of poultry and pigs, have clearly demonstrated that phytase use in feed has more benefits than just phosphorus release. It is really about breaking the anti-nutritional factor which phytic acid is, and it becomes more pronounced that the earlier in the digestive tract this destruction of phytic acid takes place the bigger and the more consistent the improvement  in growth and feed conversion is. Of course this becomes more pronounced with a fast phytase like OptiPhos®. Speed is essential for optimal efficacy of a phytase. The faster the phytase works, the stronger the super-dosing effect will be. The first phytases introduced to the market were developed for phosphorus release only, and not optimized for high speed neither for matching with the pH profile of the animal’s digestive system. Because of that these phytases do not show the super-dosing effect that strong or only when applied at an extreme high dose. Because not all phytases show the super-dosing effect at lower dosage, it means the super-dosing effect is not a phytase effect per se, but it is really related to the type of phytase you are using, which was already acknowledged earlier referring to the fact that for OptiPhos® the super-dosing effect is patented.

[Feedinfo News Service] In previous years, new phytases were launched claiming to be more efficient than existing ones. Generally speaking, do you see that pattern repeating itself with new innovations being introduced or do you think suppliers are now taking a step back to strengthen these claims for the products which are already available in the market?

[Karel Bierman] Well, I think that the current phytases are already very efficient, and that it is simply not possible to improve further that easily. You cannot release more phosphorus than what’s present in phytic acid form in the feed, and you are bound by the conditions present inside the animal’s digestive tract, which is a limitation as well. So, I don’t expect innovations on the efficiency of phytases, however innovations in applying enzymes or on other properties than efficacy are likely to happen. That, next to the continuous race in achieving a more efficient production and fermentation of phytase, which means continuously optimizing the whole production chain including the further upstream processing to keep the cost price of the phytase under control, will continue. Huvepharma is fortunate to be in a position that we are experts in this field, with our long history and expertise in fermentation and formulation processes, which makes us the best equipped company to stay a leading company in the field of enzymes and grow our enzyme product lines.

[Feedinfo News Service] Huvepharma has started to build a new factory in Bulgaria. Can you disclose any details?

[Karel Bierman] Huvepharma believes in the merit of producing in the EU, assuring EU quality for all its products marketed worldwide. The rapid growth of the enzyme volumes as well as for the other product groups (coccidiostats and veterinary products) have led to the decision to build a new factory in Bulgaria to cope with present and future growth. We are committed to stay with our production facilities inside the EU and keeping full control on the complete supply chain, assuring the highest quality of our products by having and maintaining complete control over the production strain, the fermentation process and the final formulation.

[Feedinfo News Service] What does the future of phytase innovation look like from Huvepharma's perspective?

[Karel Bierman] An innovation Huvepharma has brought to the market is the technology of using an “instant water soluble” enzyme formulation. A technique developed by our R&D division which is unique in its field. Instant water soluble enzymes are used in combination with the Huvematic®, a special developed equipment to dissolve the instant water soluble enzyme powders, and feed the so locally produced liquid enzyme into the PPLA system of the feed mill. The big benefits of using this system are there are no losses of activity of the liquid enzyme, no need for cooling the liquid enzyme containers in storage, no more transporting and storing of big 1000 liter IBC containers and much more flexibility and accuracy in dosing of liquid enzymes than working with already prepared and delivered liquid enzymes. In the end, the use of the Huvematic® with the instant water soluble enzyme powders leads to cost-savings and eliminating existing disadvantages such as the need for temperature controlled storage of liquid enzymes, which will contribute to a more economical and sustainable feed production.

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