Cattle in Japan

Interview With A Scientist: The Business Of By-products

Qingping LiuThe Asia market incorporates many countries with their own cultures, regulations, opportunities and challenges. Like the rest of the world, its demand for quality, sustainable, byproduct-derived animal feed ingredients is on the rise. Within the Asia market, trends include a shift toward farm conglomerates, a gap in dairy and whey production, a growing population and a changing demand for consumer protein. These are monumental factors in the future of feeding people.

Green Field Solutions’ scientists are leaders in animal nutrition. In addition to his expansive background in animal science, Qingping Liu, Ph.D., is an expert in the Asia market. We asked our Director of Asia Markets about geography-specific trends and nuances to be aware of.

 What is your scientific background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in animal science, and master’s degree in animal genetics from Shanxi Agriculture University in China. In 1987, after two years as an associate professor in Shanxi Agriculture University, I came to the University of Missouri – Columbia to pursue a Ph.D. in animal nutrition with a research emphasis in ruminant nutrition. Then, I went to the University of Wisconsin – Madison for a four-and-a-half year postdoctoral fellowship. There, our research emphasized the effects of nutrition on meat quality, especially effects of Vitamin E, Vitamin C and selenium on beef and pork quality. I am an active member of the American Society of Animal Science and American Dairy Science Association.

How is the distribution market in Asia unique?
The Asia market is large, covering many countries with vastly diverse cultures. Currently, we sell our products in China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. While there are some common characteristics among these markets, there are also uniqueness:

  1. Relationships. Personal and customer relationships are key to doing businesses in Asia markets, especially in China, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand. The normal business process is to make friends first, then business comes second.
  2. Dairy and Whey. Asia markets have a very high demand for dairy and whey products. This is because most Asian countries (East, South, Southeast Asia and Japan) have no or very limited cheese production. Without cheese production, there are no cheese by-products — sweet whey, whey permeates or lactose productions — which are used for human consumption and animal productions. They purely rely on imports.
  3. Competition. Suppliers from North America, South America and Europe compete for the largest and most attractive markets. The result is vigorous competition from all directions. Thus, customer relationships and services are key to a long-term and sustainable business.
  4. Regulations. Each country has its own regulations and registration requirements for feed and ingredient standards, ingredient definitions, registration documents, labeling laws, etc. Additionally, there are frequent changes to the laws and regulations related to animal feed and products imported. We must understand the changes and adjust accordingly.
  5. Distribution. The vast majority of our sales happens through our distributors. They buy from us and resell to their customers. By doing so, we have better end-user service and superior payment collection system.

How are farm operations changing in Asia?
Similar to the United States, the farms in Asia are getting larger and more integrated. There is a growing number of giant feed companies and integrators, especially in China, Vietnam and Thailand. As the farms or feed companies get larger, their operations are also getting more scientific and sophisticated. With more Ph.D. nutritionists on staff, these companies are requiring additional technical supports for the products we sell to them. In order to improve animal wellbeing, production and efficiency, they are changing their approach and modifying their feed formulations to maximize high-quality ingredients.

How can we contribute to a more sustainable food service?
By using food by-products to manufacture specialty ingredients for animal feeds, we are decreasing food waste in the United States, while providing palatable ingredients and quality nutrition to animals globally. The demand for quality ingredients — whey products, cheese products, chocolate products, sugar food products — is increasing in Asia every year. We are meeting that need in ways that improve animal production efficiency, decrease feed waste and reduce carbon footprints.