Sustainability at Novus: It’s Not a Window Dressing
Sustainability means different things to different people. Some businesses approach sustainability with a “check the box and move on” mentality. For them, sustainability is a window dressing that is pulled out when it’s time to write the annual report. It’s something they have to do, not necessarily something they want to do so they aren’t invested. To farmers, sustainability often means “leaving the land in the best condition I can for my children and grandchildren.” But there’s more to sustainability than just conservation – what about the farm as a business and what about the community?
At Novus, sustainability is not one dimensional, it’s part of our business strategy, culture and a mindset that is woven throughout the business.
“If you look at the Novus vision, mission and core values, sustainability is a key component of who we are as a company. It's not a window dressing,” said Ed Galo, World Area Director - North America at Novus International. “We incorporate it into every aspect of the business. To make a real impact, we have to be true to what sustainability means.”
Novus’s business strategy is to invest in initiatives, products and programs that are sustainable, not just because it’s profitable for Novus, but because it’s an investment in long-term relationships with customers - nutritionists, veterinarians, producers and consumers.
“We operate in a sustainable way to deliver products to our customers that truly provide demonstrable value, improving productivity and profitability,” said Galo. “We are vested and we are investing in the agricultural industry to make a positive impact by helping producers raise wholesome, affordable food and improve quality of life.”
Sustainability in Practice
In 2013, Novus introduced the Novus Sustainability Priorities Compass, which serves as the foundation for progress toward delivering on the vision, mission and core values of the company. Following are a few examples of sustainability in practice at Novus.
It's important to Novus that their customers are profitable, and this is directly linked to the technologies they bring to the market.
“We want our products, technologies and programs to deliver substantial value to our customers,” said Galo. “It’s just good business - offer customers productivity and profitability, and it impacts Novus’s productivity and profitability as well.”
A new initiative, Project Horizon, is Novus’s commitment to helping producers navigate through the transition to antibiotic-free production.
“Making the switch to antibiotic-free production isn’t typically fast or easy, but it starts with balance,” Galo said. “Our experts concentrate on offering successful alternatives to fill gaps in antibiotic-free protein production systems. Novus’s team of experts in production and nutrition management are already seeing success in the operations they are working with, and it’s been an exciting experience.”
Engaged and Empowered Employees
Engaging and empowering employees happens when you have a meaningful, important mission and vision. Novus employees believe they can make an impact by helping customers efficiently produce food.
“The people who work for us get really excited about the opportunity to make a difference in food production and food security in the US and around the world,” he said. “Our employees can make decisions because they have a clear understanding of the mission for our business.”
Sustainable Animal Agriculture
One of Novus’s goals is to bring people into the business who are passionate about producing food. Visit Novus headquarters in early summer, and you’ll see about 30 college interns actively bringing fresh thinking into the company. On top of learning the business, they each lead a specific project and present their findings to Novus executives.
“We want to learn from our interns and when they present, our executive team is there and listening,” he said. “The next generation is going to need to do more with even fewer resources. We want to help educate them in a practical way and, at the same time, inspire them to consider new solutions.”
Supply Chain Efficiency
Novus spends a lot of time thinking about how to shave over-the-road miles off every trip they make, which means setting up distribution centers in locations that make sense. An example is the AIMS® program which uses innovation to distribute liquid ALIMET® in the US. Using satellite readers in the tags at customers’ sites, Novus is able to determine the perfect time to ship ALIMET to efficiently meet customer needs in the most effective manner.
“We could just say, ‘Here's the product and we'll charge you for shipping,’ but it’s just not a sustainable approach. We challenged our team to think differently and they delivered,” he said. “Our AIMS program allows us to bundle customer delivery requirements to run multi-stop routes more efficiently and reduce the number of empty miles our trucks drive. Our fleet averages 58 percent loaded miles across distribution points, which is an indicator of route optimization.”
Human Health and Nutrition
Novus has a separate arm of the business, Stratum Nutrition, that focuses on human nutrition. It’s an opportunity market Novus is investing in that can also have a direct impact on health. A human health supplement has been commercialized using eggshell membrane which supports bone and joint health. Probiotics for oral and digestive health are being researched as well.
“We offer technologies that focus on improving quality of life for consumers,” Galo said.
Growing Wholesome, Affordable Food
Without food, it's hard to be healthy. Even in a developed country like the United States, food security is a real issue. In 2015, 12.7 percent of US households were food insecure, which means more than one in 10 adults and children are hungry. Novus partners with customers and organizations to participate in various programs throughout their communities to support local initiatives to increase food security.
“These types of programs are very important to many of our employees, so we all get involved. It's part of having empowered and engaged employees who care about people, their community and their world,” Galo said.
“The cornerstone of our vision is to help to feed the world wholesome, affordable food, doing that sustainably just makes sense and helps us turn that vision into a reality.”
This is the first of a series of four newsletter features for 2017 focusing on Novus’s sustainability initiatives. For more information on Novus’s sustainability program, click here.
Less Is More with HMTBa
Feeding increased levels of inorganic trace minerals to meet animal requirements is not the best solution. Feeding highly bioavailable forms of trace minerals can allow the producer to reduce trace mineral inclusion rates in the diet while still realizing the nutritional value of trace minerals. MINTREX® chelated trace minerals are highly bioavailable. When the HMTBa ligand separates from the metal, it contributes to the methionine requirement of the animal. Dairy producers should expect improved reproduction, immunity, hoof health and added methionine value. MINTREX has a proven rumen bypass methionine value of up to 55 percent; therefore, the methionine value of MINTREX can be used to reduce the amount of coated methionine fed in the diet and the overall cost of methionine supplementation.
Due to the high bioavailability of MINTREX, it can be supplemented with half the amount of an ITM. How is this possible? In the inorganic trace mineral world, there are many antagonists that prevent mineral absorption. This reduces potential performance and increases feed cost due to over-supplementation. As a chelated trace mineral, MINTREX is more stable in the rumen and less susceptible to dietary antagonisms which can reduce absorption. This allows for greater absorption and utilization of the trace mineral. For example, a full lactation dairy study in New York State found that supplementing MINTREX Zn, Cu and Mn at 50 percent the levels of inorganic sources resulted in similar milk production and a trend for greater reproductive performance and reduced somatic cell count. This demonstrates that MINTREX chelated trace minerals are at least twice as available to the cow as inorganic sources.
By delivering a source of trace minerals where the mineral is not only protected but also stable across a range of pH environments and resistant to antagonisms, producers can provide cows with optimal mineral nutrition and lower total mineral concentrations.
With You When It Matters
World Ag Expo
Thousands of producers, exhibitors and industry partners gathered once again at the 50th Anniversary of the World Ag Expo, the world’s largest agriculture exposition. Novus was proud to be one of the featured 1,480 exhibitors on 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. The three- day show hosted 105,780 attendees representing 43 states and 71 countries. With so many people gathered together, Novus was able to share the value of our organic trace mineral, MINTREX, as well as our antioxidant, AGRADO® Plus for dairy producers across the U.S. Join us once again next year in Tulare, California, for the next annual World Ag Expo!
Getting to Know Jake Piel
What is your official title at Novus?
How long have you been with Novus?
Five years and four months
In your role what is the most interesting thing you do?
My role has a lot of cross-functional connections throughout the organization from collecting monthly energy and emissions data from our manufacturing plants, to quantifying the environmental benefit of logistics improvement projects with global supply chain. Probably the most interesting part about the role is the interaction with industry stakeholders – customers, other members of the protein production value chain, etc. This is where we start to see the bigger picture of how Novus’s efforts in sustainability have an impact on the entire supply chain, and it helps to validate that we are focusing on the key areas that are most important to our stakeholders.
What is your favorite Novus product?
There is no doubt that MINTREX chelated trace minerals have always intrigued me. We have such a unique technology that really stands out in the mineral nutrition space.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the animal agriculture industry today?
No longer do we only have to provide enough food for a growing population, but now we also have to provide it to them in the way they want it provided. We have seen this at a tremendous rate over the last 18 months. In many cases, policy is being driven not by regulation, but by voluntary action. Food producers are drastically changing the way they conduct business (feeding practices, housing, breeding, etc.). Our industry has chosen the road of self-regulation, knowing that it may stunt productivity, but is necessary to remain relevant. I believe the consumer/social influence on animal agriculture will only continue growing. What is important is for us to remain open to dialog at all levels of the value chain.
What would be your first move if you were tasked with helping the industry overcome that challenge?
We must go to where the conversations are already happening, as opposed to trying to start our own. I believe Novus has already taken that first move. In 2015, Novus joined The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) – a multi-stakeholder organization dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. The group brings together a diverse set of stakeholders along various value chains, from toys to agriculture, to build science-based decision tools which address key issues that are important to a given industry. In the case of animal agriculture, TSC is currently developing a tool for retailers to evaluate the animal welfare practices within their supply chain. What makes this different than just another standard on welfare, is that this one was informed by multiple stakeholders up and down the supply chain, and grounded in science-based metrics. The open table approach of TSC is allowing many voices to be heard on a given topic. In the end, this means more appropriate solutions to sustainability issues, without negatively impacting any specific area of the supply chain.
When you are not promoting Novus products, what do you like to do?
A bit contrary to my professional life, I drive a race car in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Lebanon I-44 Speedway. Racing has been a passion of mine since a young age. Our father-son race team, Piel Motorsports, began with me racing go-karts at age 13, and has progressed from there. It is a dream come true to work for a company like Novus during the week, and chase my dreams on Saturday nights!
What is your favorite beef/dairy/pork/poultry product to eat?
If there’s something out there that can beat a simple, lightly-seasoned, medium-rare filet of beef, then I sure haven’t found it yet!