Kevin Tuck, Alltech’s Managing Director for Ireland outlines the company’s long established commitment to research and development.
An ongoing commitment to scientific research and development has been at the very heart of the remarkable transformation effected by Alltech over the past three and a half decades, according to the company’s managing director for Ireland Kevin Tuck. In fact the first thing any visitor notices when welcomed to Alltech’s global headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, is a bronze statue of a young boy with a magnifying glass, symbolising the company’s curiosity and commitment to scientific research.
Alltech is now one of the world’s largest animal nutrition and health businesses. Founded by Irish entrepreneur DrPearse Lyons in Kentucky, the company’s European operation is driven by Tuck’s team, who are based in a state-of-the-art sales, marketing and research centre near Dunboyne in Co. Meath.
“The growth achieved by Alltech over the past thirty five years is staggering,” said Tuck.
“The business was founded on the back of an initial US $10,000 investment, made by Dr Lyons. Last year our turnover amounted to some $2.1 billion while 2016 should see that figure rise to $3.0 billion.
“This progress has been achieved on the back of organic sales growth within our core business, allied to recent company acquisitions within the international feed industry.
“Increasingly, these compound feed businesses will be using the broad spectrum of Alltech products now available to them: hence the projected exponential growth in our sales.
“We commit 2.5% of annual turnover to fund R&D related projects. This includes work undertaken by our own scientists and research in universities and other centres of excellence around the world.
“This level of commitment is made possible due to the fact that Alltech remains a business that is wholly owned by Dr. Pearse Lyons.
“As a consequence, we do not have to respond to other shareholders who would be seeking regular dividends from the company.
Dunboyne is home to Alltech’s European headquarters and Bioscience Centre.
“Over recent years it has been the fulcrum for the training of 40 PhD and Masters graduates, all involved in key aspects of research relating to the biosciences and the development of nutraceuticals,” said Tuck.
“Currently it is home to 15 post graduates, again all involved in similar research-related activities.”
Alltech is committed to the ACE principle.
“The future of agriculture depends on solutions that are safe for the Animal, Consumer and Environment,” confirmed Tuck.
“At Alltech we believe that new technologies and their adoption throughout the food chain are the secret to achieving a sustainable world.
“These technologies must improve the health and welfare of Animals, satisfy Consumer demands and protect the Environment, the core of the Alltech ACE Principle.”
Alltech’s current research and development programmes encompass four main areas of work: eliminating the requirement for antibiotics within the agri food chain; overcoming the challenge posed by campylobacter – particularly within the poultry sector; developing new and more effective ways of making organic trace elements available to animals and working to ensure that the farming sectors can effectively reduce their carbon footprint.
“Alltech has been very closely associated with the development of new thinking, where the role of organic trace elements in animal diets is concerned,” said Tuck
“Our bioplex range is a market leader within the sector. However, we are only scraping the surface where this specific aspect of animal nutrition is concerned. And Alltech is leading the way in this regard.
“Current research work is leading to the development of new uses and bioactive delivery vehicles for these products. It is a field of research that has been completely re-defined over the past number of years. And Alltech has played a key role in making this happen.”
Tuck confirmed that Alltech takes the impact of agriculture on global warming patterns very seriously.
“We recently purchased a UK company, E-CO2, a research leader in this field,” he said.
“It is currently working with a number of key stakeholder businesses within Ireland’s agri food industry in order to secure significant reductions in the sector’s carbon footprint.
“All of this is good news for Irish farmers. For example, if milk producers can reduce the carbon footprint of their businesses by even 10%, the associated increase in annual gross margin will be in the region of €150 to €160 per cow: the equivalent figures for beef producers are in the range of €25 to €27 per finished animal.”
Tuck recognises that farm gate commodity prices are under significant pressure at the present time.
“Volatility is the word on the lips of every Irish farmer for the past year or so,” he explained.
“It’s a fact of life that international food commodity prices will rise and fall. Individual farmers have no control over these trends whatsoever.
“However, they have total control over what happens within their own farm gates. The only way that farmers can hedge against the impact of volatility is to improve the overall performance of their businesses.
“The animals they feed and the crops they grow must be allowed to express their full potential in the most efficient way possible. And this is the core rationale behind all of the R&D work undertaken by Alltech.
Tuck also confirmed Alltech’s commitment to share the new findings that its research teams are discovering with colleagues in universities and other centres of R&D excellence around the world.
“This work has been undertaken by our research director Professor Maurice Boland, a former dean of agriculture at University College Dublin.
“He has established the Alltech Global University Alliance, which will act to ensure that the latest thinking on ideas that relate to all the biosciences are freely communicated and discussed within the entire scientific community.
“The membership of the Alliance already includes universities throughout Europe, Asia plus North and South America.”
Tuck is also quick to point out that all of this new thinking must be communicated to farmers in the most effective way possible.
“At the end of the day, all of this research work has been undertaken to directly benefit primary producers.
“But, in the past, agriculture has been slow in getting messages that relate to new research findings through to farm level.
“For its part Alltech has been at the fore in striving to change this scenario, courtesy of new and innovative marketing programmes, targeted specifically at primary producers.
“And we remain committed to working with other agri stakeholder groups here in Ireland to ensure that the momentum behind these extremely worthwhile initiatives can be built on during the period ahead.”
Alltech Bioscience Centre
Summerhill Road, Sarney
Dunboyne, Co. Meath
Tel: 01 825 2244
Fax: 01 825 2245