“Coppens was not, actually, for sale, it is a very successful business. We were led to believe that it had been heavily courted by several interested parties.
"We approached the company and were able to convince its management about the opportunities to be leveraged from it coming under the Alltech umbrella,” Patrick Charlton, vice president at Alltech and newly appointed CEO of Coppens International, told FeedNavigator today.
While nothing on the scale of acquisitions like Ridley for Alltech, the transaction represents its biggest European asset buy to date, he said.
Europe is Coppens’ main market, but it has a presence in 50 different countries relying on distributors and agents, said Charlton. “It also has a footprint in the catfish market in Africa,” added the Alltech VP.
The Helmond, Netherlands headquartered company produces around 50,000 tons of feed annually. It manufacturers hobby and industrial fish feeds, along with a number of specialist feeds for species such as eel.
“We see huge potential for the portfolio beyond Europe, for eel feed in the Japanese market in particular,” said Charlton.
And he said the acquisition will really enable Alltech to further optimize its feed additive technology for farmed fish diets to boost productivity as the industry reduces its dependence on marine ingredient feed inputs. “We are aiming to significantly reduce the fish in, fish out ratio,” said Charlton.
Global research alliance
Coppens is known for innovative R&D; it is working with a vast spectrum of raw materials and has been identifying optimal feeding rates, factors which proved hugely appealing to the US feed additive player.
“We now have a global aquaculture research alliance through the R&D expertise we have acquired with Coppens, combined with our tie-up with Nofima and our own algae feed research facility in the US.
"But we had to reorganize the operating structure of Coppens. Under the previous ownership, its research centre (CRC) was a private entity carrying out exclusive work for Coppens on a contract basis. We have changed that – the CRC, which focuses on 12 species, has now been fully integrated into the business as part of the acquisition – a crucial part of the deal for us,” continued Charlton.
Alltech was already involved in aqua feed research partnerships in Norway with the likes of the University of Bergen and Nofima, focusing on developing algae and enzyme based technology to ensure greater sustainability of the industry. It also has a large commercial algae production site in Kentucky.