Cargill Acquires Delacon to Create Plant-Based Phytogenic Feed Additives

Cargill has purchased Delacon, a Dutch company that specializes in phytogenic feed additives. Phytogenic feed additives are developed from plant extracts, and can be used as natural alternatives to antibiotics in livestock feed for poultry, swine, ruminants, and aquaculture animals. For example, plants such as fenugreek can be used as an alternative to tetracycline in poultry or fish diets; another plant extract can be used as an alternative to oxytetracycline in poultry and swine feed.


What is phytogenics?

Phytogenics are a new generation of feed additives derived from plants and designed to increase livestock and aquaculture productivity by boosting animal gut health. Cargill has developed an extensive portfolio of phytogenics, each delivering targeted benefits through activation of specific microorganisms in the digestive tract. Developed with advances in scientific understanding of how animals digest their feed, these compounds boost nutrition absorption rates by acting directly on beneficial bacteria that live within livestock.


Why are they important in animal nutrition?

Cargill and its ingredient solutions business, Cargill Protein Solutions, announced today that it has acquired 100 percent of Swiss based Delacon for a amount not disclosed. The acquisition will create a new category in animal nutrition called phytogenics, which uses feed ingredients from plants and plant extracts to address animal health challenges such as antibiotic use in livestock and fish farming. Cargill says it wants to help farmers produce more food for a growing population in a way that is sustainable environmentally, economically and socially.


How do they compare with other essential amino acids?

Because of their smaller size, essential amino acids are easy for animals to digest and convert into protein. The body does not make essential amino acids; therefore, they must be ingested by eating foods such as meat, poultry, fish and soy products or through supplementation with feed additives such as phytogenic feed additives. Essential amino acids cannot be stored in large quantities in muscle tissue because they would cause an imbalance of other nutrients in that tissue. Instead, essential amino acids are metabolized and excreted quickly from the body. Therefore, it is important that ruminants receive a constant supply of these nutrients throughout all stages of growth to ensure proper development and maintenance of muscle mass.


What kind of application results can we expect?

Phytogenic feed additives have long been used by farmers for various applications. Now, in a recent deal announced by Cargill and Delacon, livestock and aquaculture producers can rest assured that they can continue using phytogenics as part of their foods. The acquisition will allow both companies to continue doing what they do best — producing specialized feeds for farmers across regions.


When can we use them in ruminants?

Research on phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) has shown that they can boost production in cattle, but not necessarily when used in ruminants. For example, corn distillers’ dried grains with solubles (DDGS) are a good source of energy for ruminants and have been found to be an effective alternative feed for dairy cows compared with grass silage.


What is the added value for farmers, as well as their animals?

Increasing crop production in a world facing a growing global population and an increasingly limited supply of fresh water will be one of agriculture’s most difficult tasks. Farmers are always looking for ways to boost yields, especially with limited resources. They want to make sure their animals get high-quality feed that promotes growth without sacrificing productivity.


How do they fit into our strategy at MCP (and MNL)?

MCP is committed to being a leading innovator in crop protection and developing new technologies that help growers increase yield, health and quality. Delacon’s expertise in botanical chemistry will enable MCP’s R&D team to deliver an even more comprehensive portfolio of plant science solutions for our customers. Combining both companies’ core competencies will allow us to create synergies with existing products and open up new pathways for innovation – all of which will help support sustainability efforts around feed additives going forward.


What will be the next steps after this transaction has been completed?

In light of Cargill’s announcement that it is acquiring Swiss animal nutrition company Delacon, for an undisclosed sum, we spoke with a leading expert about how these changes might affect consumers and stakeholders. Dr. Wouter Pelgrum explains below how he expects feed additives will change in response to consumer demand for healthier and more sustainable foods.


Final thoughts on this merger.

In recent years, Cargill has been at the forefront of integrating plant protein sources into animal feed for a variety of reasons. While increased sustainability is a key motive behind moving away from traditional livestock feed additives like fish meal and blood meal, cost is another big motivator. Given that plant sources are more readily available, sustainable and significantly cheaper than animal-based options, they’re an easy alternative.

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