October 15, 2012

Interview: Robin Meng, Buhler

Fish – the feed focus from Dragon Town

While Buhler Group of Switzerland has been present in China for three decades, is has just completed its sixth year in its relatively new manufacturing facilities in the industrial heartland for animal feed of Changzhou City in Jiangsu Province – a city nicknamed Dragon Town.

It employs more than 800 staff with a focus not just on manufacturing and sales,
but also R & D, quality control, servicing, engineering design, installations and commissioning.

The new manufacturing facility is working for China and worldwide in the medium and top-end market.

Ninety percent of the business has a feed focus while 10 percent is on ports-to-storage logistics, says Mr Robin Meng, head of Buhler’s international business department.

“Our main business is related to feed here in Chanzhou. Logistics has only recently become a focus in China and is no more than two years old.”

Buhler’s Chanzhou operation is six years old and is growing rapidly, experiencing almost 30 percent per year.

“We are looking beyond domestic markets to a worldwide market from China. Our vision or mission is to provide quality products and the best solutions for our customers. We want sustainable development and also find a way to satisfy the customer and help bring benefits to them,” he told Grain and Feed Milling Technology magazine in Beijing recently while attending VIV China.
Mr Robin Meng, Buhler’s head of international business at its Buhler (Changzhou) Machinery Co Ltd in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province

Market changes

Feed processing in China continues to grow, which it has been doing for the past 30 years. Mr Meng believes demand will continue its upward growth trend for the next 10 years, at around 10 percent per year.

“China produced 180 million tonnes of animal feed last year having passed the 100 million tonne mark in 2007-08.”

He says poultry remains the major protein source followed closely by pork. “But the market is still growing in chicken,” he adds.

An issue facing all Chinese consumers is that of taste when it comes to chicken.
“Chicken may not be as delicious as before. People are becoming more wealthy and they are looking for quality of life and food safety over taste.”

He told GFMT that China has not escaped the issues of food safety and meat has attracted it’s fair share of criticism, yet is clean and of good quality.

However, the food-related safety issues are forcing people to look for alternative healthy sources of protein and they have found it in fish, says Mr Meng.

“As land animals are not so much available at the prices people can afford, they are looking to the water and the skies for alternatives. In past three years growth has been focused on aquaculture.”

Mr Meng says aquaculture is growing at around 30 percent per annual in fresh water and has to cope with quality issues such as sanitation.

Of course, Mr. Meng Said, moving to aquaculture is also revealing less attractive profit in traditional land animal segment and more benefits at a growing stage of the aquaculture segment.

“If anything it is growing too fast,” he says.

It’s proving difficult for feed producers to keep up and as a result quality and sanitation plus other aspects of feed usage are not being focused on as closely as they should be, he adds.

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