From trace minerals to superior animal feed, Armando Diana learns that Prince Agri Products’ storied 150-plus years of existence has been fueled by a passion for excellence.
In a business environment in which commodity items simply become a war of continued reduced pricing among competitors it is rare when a company not only bucks the trend but does it successfully. That comes as no surprise to those who know Prince Agri Products which, throughout its 151-year history, has seen, managed and handled all sorts of business situations.
Nestled in Quincy, Ill., near the Mississippi River, Prince Agri Products is a global provider of proven ingredients and science-based technologies for the animal feed industry. Its products are designed for all companion- and food-animal species, including dairy, swine, poultry and beef.
The company has thrived through several factors. Take for example, its location near the Mississippi River. Initially located in the Northeast portion of the United States and founded as a trace minerals manufacturer for only industrial applications, primarily pigments, Prince Agri Products, relates the company’s president Dean Warras, used this experience and applied it to the animal feed industry in the early 1970’s. Trace minerals are the chemical element required by living organisms other than the four elements – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen – present in common organic molecules. The products generally are mixed with animal feeds and pet foods to fortify and enhance their nutritional value.
Realizing customers for the animal feed industry were in the Midwest and understanding the dynamics of the supply chain, the company knew it would need to transport its products via railways and in-land waterways.
Today, 60 to 70 percent of Prince Agri Products’ raw materials are imported and the company still uses waterways to get these materials. In addition, Quincy is the northern-most point on the Mississippi River that is able to handle barge traffic year round without freezing over.
Therefore, the location guarantees almost year round navigable waterways.
It is this type of forethought that is gained by what Warras says is the “passion for excellence that permeates the company from top to bottom.”
Prince Agri Products manages domestic and international operations, production facilities and a world-class analytical laboratory from Quincy. Customers look to Prince Agri Products for high quality feed ingredients and the company now markets more trace minerals than any other provider in the industry. In addition to trace minerals, Prince Agri Products has proprietary specialty products that offer unique nutritional benefits and allow producers to maximize their profitability.
IT STARTS WITH QUALITY
Prince Agri Products shows commitment to research, sourcing, quality and education throughout its history. It is extremely skilled at providing nutritional technologies that are central to the success of its customers. It accomplishes this through a program called Dynamic Quality Assurance (DQA®), which is a part of the culture at Prince Agri Products and central to all processes. DQA was created in 2005 to demonstrate and ensure continuous improvement in the production and delivery of a safe and high-quality feed supply for the growth and care of food-producing and companion animals. DQA is a five-fold program that includes employee, supplier, and customer education. It also includes process reviews to identify potential quality issues, contaminants and points of contamination. There is ongoing analysis to confirm effective implementation of established controls and also identification of unknown hazards to ensure continuous product integrity.
The company is committed to sourcing the finest ingredients that support its customers’ goals of providing sound nutrition for healthy animals. This is accomplished through a large database that fingerprints raw materials and allows Prince Agri Products to notice even minute changes. This database has been in place for more than a decade and Prince Agri Products is the only company in the industry that follows this procedure. In addition, it is in constant communication with its domestic and foreign suppliers to assess the intended use of all materials that enter and flow through the Prince Agri Products supply chain. The company has the policies, analytical procedures and laboratory team in place to monitor known hazards and to continuously attempt to identify previously unknown hazards.
GOING TO MARKET
Prince Agri Products actively develops and seeks new product technologies and services from sources including innovators, universities and emerging and existing companies that can bring value to producers. The specialty products category within Prince Agri Products now accounts for 25 percent of the business, and is the fastest-growing portion of the business, requiring a high degree of research and development investment.
That investment has yielded an expansive line of innovative, branded products such as OmniGen-AF®.
“OmniGen-AF is the only nutritional product of its kind found in animal agriculture. For many decades, nutritional science has been focused on identifying nutrients, such as proteins, vitamins and minerals and understanding their role in biological processes. Understanding how these nutrients reinforce the health of the cow, and thereby preventing diseases resulting from their deficiencies, is a major objective in today’s animal nutrition industry,” says Warras.
More recently, a new science referred to as Nutrigenomics has emerged as a result of significant developments in genetic research. Nutrigenomics is the study of the molecular relationships between genes, their response to specific nutrients, and how those relationships can impact animal health and performance. “Through the use of microarray technology,” says Warras, “we study the impact of nutrients on specific genes and their genetic expression.”
Just as in humans, animal health is directly related to diet and nutrition. Subtle changes in animal diets can “turn on” or “turn off” specific genes responsible for cellular health. This gene regulation in turn impacts the overall health of the animal. “We, of course, want positive gene regulation outcomes and can now determine which combination of nutrients specifically express those genes through Nutrigenomics,” he adds.
Prince Agri Products, Inc. has harnessed these key, scientific findings from this revolutionary new science through its Gen-Active Technology® platform and is using it to develop innovative nutritional products designed to support normal animal health. Gen-Active Technology® is a proprietary formulation of nutrients that have been specifically selected for their ability to modulate the genetic expression of genes responsible for cellular health.
OmniGen-AF nutritional supplement from Prince Agri Products utilizes the Gen-Active Technology platform to provide those critical nutrients required to support a properly functioning immune system in dairy cows. A healthy immune system is paramount in protecting dairy cows against bacterial and viral pathogens while reducing a wide range of diseases associated with these pathogens.
The benefits of a healthy immune system are many, and include reduced mastitis and metritis, lower somatic cell count, less death loss and culls, better reproductive efficiency and increased milk production. Proper management and good nutrition can help reduce the occurrence of disease in a herd, which can result in lower treatment costs and more days spent in profitable milk production, which can increase total dairy income.
Two other products, Chromax® and Animate®, also set the standard of nutrition for healthy animals. Chromax has been an important technology for swine producers worldwide for almost two decades with its ability to positively impact sow reproductivity performance by enhancing glucose metabolization. Animate is a revolutionary technology for freshening lactating dairy cows to ensure a proper anionic mineral balance.
Over the last four years, Prince Agri Products has expanded its sales and technical teams, customer service and distribution to significantly grow the business and better serve a broader client base.
In 2005 the company launched a direct sales force to help “pull through” sales of the specialty products category. Warras says the concept is to energize the influencers in the industry to explain the benefits of the product line.
“It’s not a commodity sale like our trace minerals business; it’s a technical sale,” Warras says. “We need to explain the benefit of the product and how it will help improve the customers’ herd.” To that end, the company hires reps with advanced degrees and/or significant industry experience. In many cases, these sales reps are influencers in the industry. These influencers understand the nature of animal health and nutrition, and can help the buyer better understand the return on investment in using the specialty feed products.
The trace minerals business comes in extremely handy in opening doors for the specialty products group. Many times the same customers for the trace minerals business are also potential customers for the company’s specialty products. In addition, Prince Agri Products is the market leader for trace minerals and in any given week its products are used by 90 percent of the animal nutrition companies in the field.
To assist the direct sales force the company has customer solutions representatives (CSRs) who work with customers to create and deliver additional value and a positive customer experience.
WHO IS PRINCE AGRI PRODUCTS
Prince Agri Products is a division of Phibro Animal Health Corporation, a global leader in the fields of animal health and nutrition, with thousands of customers worldwide and a global workforce of over 900. Phibro, headquartered in Ridgefield Park, N.J., manufactures more than 550 specialty products.
Prince Agri Products also has facilities in Marion, Iowa; Omaha, Neb., and is in the processing of building a new state-of-the-art facility in Quincy, Ill. The company holds valid certifications under the American Feed Industry’s Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program, establishing its laboratory, Universal Testing, in 1982. Built on years of experience evaluating mineral products for use in numerous industrial and feed applications, Universal Testing quickly earned a reputation for superior analyses and comprehensive evaluations. Universal Testing’s customer base includes companies involved in animal feed, pet food, chemical manufacturing, mining, heavy media and pharmaceutical products.
In early March Prince Agri Products completed an acquisition of the Baltzell Agri Products (“BAP”) trace minerals business. BAP is a manufacturer and marketer of an extensive line of trace minerals, trace mineral premixes, selenium premixes and other nutritional ingredients to the animal feed and pet food industries in the United States. BAP serves customers in all animal feed segments, including cattle, dairy, swine, poultry, and companion animals. BAP produces trace mineral premixes at its blending facility in Omaha, Neb., with a workforce of 50 employees.
And that is where and how the company turned a commodity item like trace minerals into a value added product that has large corporations in the animal feed industry knocking on its doors. At Prince Agri Products, the belief is that a healthy animal is a profitable animal. For over 150 years a passion for excellence has driven that belief.