French feed additive company Nuqo expands with new affiliates

Affiliates in regions like Thailand, Mexico, and India play a critical role in our growth, serving as regional hubs. This strategic positioning has been a significant factor in our remarkable expansion. However, even with our global reach, we remain humble and acknowledge that our organization has not yet reached its full maturity in some major markets, indicating room for improvement. Our strategy is clear, and our organization remains flexible, laying the groundwork for exciting new developments with new partners to join our venture.

Ewenn Helary
NUQO Feed Additives

NUQO, a French company that develops natural ingredients and feed additives to improve animal performance and health, is a very new and dynamic company founded in 2020. Increasing its brand recognition in the market, product visibility and its presence worldwide in a short time, the company recently announced its NUQO India affiliate.

Ewenn Helary, CEO of NUQO who continues his journey with brand-new objectives, emphasises that NUQO focuses on addressing specific challenges with more sustainable solutions based on feedback from its customers, such as reducing environmental impact while improving performance or developing new production and bioprocessing technologies.

Ewenn Helary explains the structuring process of NUQO, how far the company has come, its products, future objectives and its claims in the phytogenic feed additives market for our readers.

Mr. Helary, how is NUQO performing today? Could you share some recent milestones achieved by your business?
2024 is shaping up to be promising. Our growth has continued and even picked up pace. Operating in a B2B and technically driven market, we often find that securing large deals can take longer than anticipated. However, our persistent efforts are paying off. Even in a complex market, our customers recognize our expertise and its relevance in enhancing their operations. Our brand recognition is increasing, and our exclusive technologies are gaining visibility. I would like to thank our technical team for consistently demonstrating the value of our technologies, and our entire team for enabling the expansion of our business, exemplified by the opening of our affiliate ‘NUQO India’ recently.

NUQO appears to have quickly established a global sales network. Could you elaborate on that? How have the new affiliates contributed to exploring new markets?
Together with our leadership team, we bring a solid and diverse experience and networks. Besides, we have successfully turned some of challenges into opportunities with customers, seeking new and independent suppliers and innovative technologies. And we focused on some strategic markets: substantial potential, good dynamic and opportunities with exceptional professionals. Affiliates in regions like Thailand, Mexico, and India play a critical role in our growth, serving as regional hubs. This strategic positioning has been a significant factor in our remarkable expansion.

However, even with our global reach, we remain humble and acknowledge that our organization has not yet reached its full maturity in some major markets, indicating room for improvement. Our strategy is clear, and our organization remains flexible, laying the groundwork for exciting new developments with new partners to join our venture.

Could you describe the portfolio and technologies of NUQO? How has the NUQO product offering become more diversified? Any insights on the R&D pipeline?
Our portfolio of flagship products has been developed utilizing advanced manufacturing technologies, such as micro-encapsulation or agglomeration, and exclusive molecules with some specific sourcing. Our best-seller products include NUQO NEX, SAFE, YUMMY which aim at supporting gut health and enhancing animal performance with a very clear positioning, for instance to improve performance and profitability of operations, to tackle specific health challenges or to secure early performance of young animals. Developing in-house expertise in manufacturing technologies, has been crucial for us to create products, such as NUQO RED, our most recently launched product onto the market that aim at mitigating the impact of environmental conditions.

We manage our pipeline with a clear philosophy: our resources are focused on a limited number of strategic projects with clearly defined expectations, enabling us to deliver high-quality science efficiently with fast & agile decision process. We focus on few themes based on customers’ feedback: address specific challenges with more sustainable solutions, reduce environmental impact while enhancing performance, or develop new manufacturing and bioprocessing technologies.

You argue that NUQO took leadership in the field of micro-encapsulated phytogenics and phycogenics, what are your current thoughts on the phytogenic feed additives market?
Over the past decades, the phytogenics feed additives market has grown with evolving regulations, changing consumer expectations, and advancements in research. Really: Kudos to the pioneers who spearheaded this movement in the late 20th century! In contrast, recent years have seen some business consolidation, resulting in a noticeable slowdown in innovation and the launch of ‘green’ solutions with opaque formulations and bold claims but limited evidence and transparency.

To navigate this landscape, NUQO decided to address transparently customers’ fundamental needs. NUQO©NEX is a good example of this approach and is likely the most accomplished technology in this field today. We present clear information regarding the composition of our products, our manufacturing technologies and its impact on stability or release in the gut, with comprehensive research data and publications, providing clear insights to our customers for their business. It is based on strong expertise & investments, we can openly explain in detail to our customers. In return, this creates a strong trust with our customers who feel they can safely collaborate and create value with us. This is a simple, differentiating, and fundamental aspect underlying the sustainable or long-term growth of NUQO.

Additionally, NUQO invests in research on phycogenics (from marine algae). Can you elaborate?
This is a cornerstone of our strategy. There is extensive research on ‘phytogenics’ (from the Greek ‘phyto,’ plant), but there’s still much to explore in the field of ‘phycogenics’ (from the Greek ‘phyko,’ algae). There is growing enthusiasm for investigating the potential of marine algae through various approaches: Some focus on seaweeds as a nutrient source, while others explore different properties. Our approach is unique; we don’t view algae as just raw material, instead, we concentrate on identifying algae metabolites that can enhance animal gut health for positive outcomes. We are likely the only team actively connecting metabolites of seaweeds with their impact on animal physiology. We collaborate with experts in this field, such as our long-term partnership with the University of Wels in Austria, where we share capabilities and ideas to identify the most promising solutions, and work on innovative bioprocessing technologies. We believe we are only scratching the surface of the potential and are excited to be at the forefront of this field of innovation.

Regarding business challenges, which events have impacted NUQO the most and to what extent? Which regional challenges have been the most difficult? Can you discuss the limitations or accelerators for your business?
Like the rest of the industry, we have faced the impacts of covid and other pandemics, economic difficulties, and supply chain instability. These challenges have sometimes created inertia, making clients more risk-averse and prolonging discussions, which may have slowed our growth. However, it has also prompted a shift towards more agile working habits for the future. The difficult economic context, such as fluctuations in raw material prices, has been challenging. Yet, it has also underscored our customers’ interest in our technologies to secure their operations’ profitability. In this regard, it has acted as a growth accelerator for us. Challenging market conditions and crises actually highlight the strength and resilience of any strategy. So, overall, I believe we have navigated well through this turbulent landscape.

Can you be more specific about the business evolution in recent years? In your role at NUQO and previous experiences, you’ve likely witnessed significant industry changes. How have these experiences influenced the founding and strategy of NUQO?
Compared to other industries, animal nutrition remains relatively fragmented, yet it has experienced significant evolution in recent years. Customers worldwide have high expectations regarding technical standards and economic outcomes. Businesses face ongoing pressure on profitability, prompting further consolidation to enhance margins and internalize capabilities. Many valuable mid-size companies have been acquired, capturing some of their value, assets, and capabilities, while much of it was lost. This leaves now limited space for intermediaries and foo-foo dust products, and results in a landscape dominated by large companies with holistic offerings and commodity expertise, alongside smaller innovative companies quickly taking positions (but at their own risk). This has indeed shaped our strategy at NUQO. We aim to offer value-added technologies to our customers and maintain exclusivity and relevance in the long term by owning our technologies, including intellectual property and industrial assets.

Reflecting on the past, can you share more about how NUQO was established? Who are the key stakeholders in this venture, and what is your vision for the future?
The answer to that question is very simple: NUQO was established as an independent company, founded by me along with a few partners who have longstanding connections to the animal nutrition market. Some employees hold significant shares, as well as industrial partners who support and contribute to our operations. For instance, we have financial support from a family-owned business with a long-term commitment to our field. Finally, I am one of the major shareholders as well. That’s it.

The idea behind our model was to unite all the necessary capabilities for the future from the outset (research, industrial, commercial), while fostering a ‘team spirit’ for our long-term development, built on trust, success, and, I must say, fun.

Talking about the future, it’s important to mention that we remain open to replicate our model and partner with top individuals or companies to create regional hubs or invest in new opportunities and technologies. I am confident in the strength of our model also in the future.

What was your rationale for creating NUQO? Do you foresee any changes? (Are you open to offers from other businesses?) What is your long-term plan in this regard?
Our market is experiencing an exciting yet challenging period. As discussed, there is continuous economic pressure alongside high technical expectations across all markets. In the feed additives sector, some categories are becoming commoditized (such as, let’s say, toxin binders, organic minerals, and even enzymes to some extent), but there remains a growing interest in phytogenics, ‘-biotics’ technologies, and other innovative advancements yet to come. In parallel, certain large players follow trends, absorb mid-size companies and business but create only limited organic growth, while small, opportunistic players offer me-too blends and show much commercial agility. Between these extremes, we believe there is a ridge path for independent players to develop genuinely unique technologies (i.e., not commodities) that address the real needs of customers, offering practical and efficient solutions (no BS). This is somehow the NUQO way. Instead of pursuing short-term market share gains, we primarily aim to combine all elements necessary for long-term and sustainable organic growth.

To your last question, yes, we have received concrete solicitations, which indicates that our technologies are gaining visibility and value in the market. However, I recognize that a simple takeover often doesn’t create lasting value, as we’ve frequently observed in the past. As mentioned earlier, our ‘club’ model is geared for long-term, and I don’t foresee this changing. Nonetheless, we are open to welcoming new ambitious partners for specific developments, particular applications, technologies, or geographies.

Can you discuss the long-term strategy? Does it require occasional adjustments, or does it still align with your original vision when you founded NUQO in 2020?
While we’ve had to make strategic decisions to deliver on our promises, we see still ample room for further growth and enhancement. Regarding innovation, our pipeline is clear, it will enable us to expand into new areas, but we need to execute on it. In terms of business, there are specific regions where we plan to bolster our presence, whenever we can partner with individuals & companies who share our ambition and values.

5 years ago, we crafted a company with a flexible and decentralized structure, prioritizing scientific research to offer proven technologies and fostering long-term growth for people and business. Even though we couldn’t foresee every challenge or market upheaval, we are now reaping the rewards of our team’s hard work. This makes me think our strategy remains pertinent.