Dr. Ramdas Kambale, Director – Sales APAC and Board Member, Vetphage Pharmaceuticals
Q1. What prompted the need for re-branding of this company?
We have proven to be a reliable partner to Proteon since our inception. Having recorded 175% revenue increase in the first 6 months of 2020 despite of the general countrywide lockdown, with plans of more than 200% growth in H2 of 2020 comparing to H1. Therefore our parent company had decided to share its global brand Proteon Pharmaceuticals with usso that we can leverage from it.
Q2. What changes do you expect in the company after re-branding?
Our product line, marketing, and sales strategy remain the same. The rebranding will help us to improve the brand awareness and take the advantage of what is the best in the global brand. We will benefit from it both financially and in terms of the image. The aspiring candidates will be attracted to make careers in global company.
Q3. What turnover and the market reach do you expect in next five years after re-branding?
Our products have already been met with enthusiastic appreciation from farmers, and we expect our sales volume to go up this year. According to preliminary estimates, we expect 200% growth in the second half of 2020, with 40% growth in revenue in the Southern region comprising AP, Karnataka, TN, Kerala, Telangana, and a 20% growth in the Western region, comprising of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The markets slowed down due to the pandemic, subsequent lockdowns, and fake news linking the spread of corona to chicken meat consumption. This affected the poultry industry adversely and small farmers were hit quite hard. Now that consumer demand is returning and the service industry is getting back on track, sales volume is returning back on track. However, we expect farmers to be more cautious in the future and opt for bacteriophages and enzybiotics over antibiotics.
Q4. Does this re-branding aim to overhaul the manpower and the product profile?
Apart from the products that are currently available in our portfolio, we have new releases in the pipeline coming up soon. We strongly believe that our experienced and dedicated team of professionals will to continue to be with us in the journey in order to deliver best-in-class feed additives to global poultry farmers.
Q5. Does your R&D have any new product in near future?
We are in the process of launching a product – a feed additive designed to protect breeders, broilers and commercial egg layers from E. Coli infection, which is currently one of the leading causes of mortality in poultry flocks across the world. We will share more information about the product later this year.
Q6. How does Vetphage compete against its competitive companies?
We are the market leader in innovative, bacteriophage-based feed additives for animal farming. Our local team of professionals has many years of experience in the poultry market and we are supported by Proteon’s R&D team, located in Poland. To be honest, we set the trends in the global as well as Indian market, and it might take a while for our competitors to catch up.
Q7. Do you conduct survey of your product efficacy at farm level?
Yes, we have our own diagnostic services and we do conduct surveys as per the need and requirements. We perform trials conducted on a regular basis by well-known veterinarians on many different farms, in order to confirm the efficacy of our product in India. All of them went well so far, and we can proudly provide Indian poultry farmers with the innovative products.
Q9. What are your CSR activities?
During the difficult time of the pandemic we have distributed 300 liters of our flag product BAFASAL+G, free of cost to poultry farmers who suffered losses due to the lockdown. Since poultry is a low margin commodity, it takes over 10 production cycles to recover the losses, which are currently upwards of Rs. 20000 crores. This does not bode well for the economy as the industry contributes 6-7 percent to our national GDP. Considering the dire situation, we decided to give the industry a push by supplying high quality poultry feed additive (BAFASAL+G) to the farmers free of cost.
Q10. How did you cope against Covid 19 pandemic when markets were devastated?
The poultry farmers were affected badly by the pandemic and poultry meat sales took a precipitous drop. The situation was precarious for a couple of months but things are starting to return to normal.
Q11. How do you see Indian poultry industry after Covid 19 pandemic?
We expect to see a growth in the organized meat market in the future. A mature processed meat market will be beneficial to producers and customers alike. Processing technology will increase the shelf life of all meat products, which will make it easier for farmers to absorb any shocks due to the improved control over the inventory. Also, the fact that the product can be stored will shield them from unexpected crashes in prices. Social distancing is going to be the norm for the foreseeable future, and the need of hygienically stored meat which is not touched by hand is going to go up Processed meat is the logical answer to all the above demands, and it will allow producers to adhere to the strict quality requirements. Players who can integrate into a brand-driven processed meat market could gain a lot from this trend.
Q12. Explain us your global business?
Proteon Pharmaceuticals is a leader in bacteriophage technology for livestock farming. Proteon’s products modulate the microbiome, enhancing sustainability and improving performance on the farm. We have created a precision phage development platform that uses omics technologies, molecular biology, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence (AI) to create effective, reliable and safe antibacterial solutions for animal health. Proteon was the first company to develop precision bacteriophage-based feed additives to combat bacterial infections in poultry. Our company’s flagship anti-salmonella feed additive increases food safety in poultry whiles its aquaculture product improves fish health by reducing bacterial loads. Our team are developing phage products across the fields of livestock farming, including products that prevent avian pathogenic e.coli in poultry and mastitis in dairy cows.
Proteon has received funding from BIB Seed in 2008. In 2017 it completed a successful Series A funding round with Aqua Spark, a leading global fund that addresses the planet’s health and food security and specializes in aquaculture. It is also supported by BioInfo Bank and The National Center for Research and Development R&D projects grants from EU funds. Headquartered in Poland, the company currently operates worldwide with footprints in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia.
Q13. Which is your most selling product in India and why?
BAFASAL+G is our flagship product and we have many brand advocates who can vouch for the product. The product controls Salmonella and ensures food safety and shows a great deal of improvements in mortality rate, FCR and body weight in Breeders, Broilers and Layers.
Q14. What is the future of Indian poultry pharma companies?
Increasing antimicrobial resistance is leading to a shift from antibiotics to bacteriophage-based feed additives, and we expect this market to grow in the future tremendously. Poultry pharma companies should consider investing in phage R&D if they haven’t already.
Q15. What are your efforts (Technical seminars, discussions etc) to disseminate Vetphage information among poultry farmers of India?
We have conducted extensive training sessions to educate regional distributors across the country. From explaining the science behind bacteriophages and antimicrobial resistance, to taking them through our product development process and training them to calculate ROI when our product is applied on poultry farms using case studies. We have worked extensively to educate key players in the industry, including farmers, and we intend to keep up our efforts in the future.
Q16. Please enlist your product certification details like; ISO, GMP etc?
We have implemented ISO 9001, and our production process is GMP compliant.
Q17. What is the importance of HACCP and biosecurity in your company?
All of Proteon Pharmaceuticals’ products feed additives adhere to the criteria used by the European Food Safety Authority